Anyone who liked the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first installment in Stieg Larsson's trilogy, is bound to like the second part, The Girl Who Played With Fire. It returns much of the same cast for another venture into the shadowy underworld of corruption and depravity that apparently lurks under everything sunny and blonde in Sweden.
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is still an accomplished computer hacker and as fierce as ever, but also more skilled as a fighter and appears to have picked up some tricks of the spy trade. The opening scenes suggest a clumsy sequel. After escaping the hellish network of abusers and murderers in the original, Salander's return to Sweden seems both unwise and unnecessary, and given the enemies she's made, she isn't very careful about it. Meanwhile, the disgraced/redeemed journalist from the original, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), is back at Millennium magazine, which is on the verge of publishing an explosive expose, this time about sex trafficking and police and government agents who abuse underage foreign prostitutes.
It's not long before Salander restarts a relationship with an old girlfriend, secret police crawl out of the woodwork, bodies pile up and Stockholm again looks like a cauldron of murder and predatory sex. The intrigue digs up new villains and old connections, and the plot isn't as compelling as the first film, rather it comes off as episodic. But it adds a compelling dimension of insight into Salander's past and pathos and why she became such an avenging dynamo. It helps to know from the first film why Blomkvist cares about her, but the story and suspense work on their own, even if the tattoo has faded a bit. (In Swedish with English subtitles.) — Will Coviello