The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) is the second novel/movie in the dismayingly popular Millennium Trilogy by the late Swedish communist and feminist Stieg Larsson. It is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was recently remade in English directed by David Fincher. Assuming that Hollywood will remake all three Swedish films, we might as well get a sneak preview by taking a look at the Swedish sequels.
The basic cast of The Girl Who Played with Fire is the same as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, although the new movie was directed by Daniel Alfredson instead of Niels Arden Oplev. The look and style of both movies is very much the same.
I will now spoil the movie by summarizing the plot.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is set a year or so after the first movie. Lisbeth Salander, the “girl” of the title (although shouldn’t womyn find “girl” demeaning?), has been living abroad but decides to return to Sweden. She stops by the home of her legal guardian, the lawyer Bjurman, who in the previous movie had a thing for tying her up and raping her. Lisbeth filmed one of these rapes and used it to blackmail Bjurman. To remind him of their arrangement, Lisbeth brandishes Bjurman’s gun at him.
A short while later, Bjurman’s gun is used to kill Bjurman and a young couple, Mia and Dag. Lisbeth’s fingerprints are on the gun, so by an unlikely turn of events, she becomes a murder suspect.
The young couple were investigating human trafficking: the kidnapping of young Russian and East European women for sex slaves. (We see a Swedish journalist drooling as he rapes a young Russian who is tied to a bed.) Mia wrote her doctoral dissertation, From Russia With Love, on the subject. And, by another unlikely turn of events, her boyfriend Dag was writing about it for Millennium magazine, a Left-wing journal that employs Mikael Blomkvist, Salander’s partner in crime-solving in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
With virtually no contact, Salander and Blomkvist work independently to solve the murders and clear Salander. (The two only see each other at the very end of the movie.)
But the improbabilities are just getting started. It turns out that the man running the human trafficking ring is Alexander Zalachenko, a Soviet GRU (military intelligence) defector who is living in Sweden. His trigger man is his son, Ronald Niedermann, a giant blonde thug who is incapable of feeling pain. (We’re getting into Bond territory here.)
Zalachenko turns out to be Lisbeth Salander’s father. (Niedermann is her half-brother.) Zalachenko regularly raped and assaulted Lisbeth’s mother until she suffered permanent brain damage. Lisbeth, aged 12, then doused her father in gasoline and struck a match, leaving him disfigured and crippled.
Zalachenko’s handlers in the Swedish government had Lisbeth confined to a mental institution for two years, where she spent more than half of the time tied to a bed (again with the bondage) by Dr. Peter Teleborian, a creepy psychiatrist with a penchant for underage girls. Lisbeth then was placed under the care of Holger Palmgren, a sympathetic social worker. Since she was deemed incapable of functioning as an adult, Bjurman the rapist was eventually appointed her legal guardian.
For no apparent reason, Zalachenko decides he wants Bjurman’s files on Lisbeth, and Bjurman wants Lisbeth’s blackmail video in exchange. For no apparent reason, Zalachenko dispatches Niedermann to kill Bjurman, even though his files on Lisbeth remain hidden. Then Niedermann kills the young couple who were working to expose his father’s sex trafficking business. Niedermann also goes searching for Lisbeth.
Lisbeth takes up with one of her old lesbian flames, a blue-eyed woman with the unlikely name of Miriam Wu. We are treated to a long sex scene, which they refer to as “fucking,” proving that sex education is not as advanced in Sweden as we were led to believe. To find Lisbeth, Niedermann abducts Wu but extracts no useful information from her, so he decides to burn her alive in a warehouse along with Paolo Roberto, a boxing instructor who comes to her rescue (they escape).
Lisbeth goes to Bjurman’s weekend cottage and finds his secret files on her. Two motorcycle gangsters who work for Niedermann arrive to torch the place. Naturally, they decide to rape her. Lisbeth, using pepper spray, kick-boxing, a taser, and a lot of grrrrrl power, overcomes the two toughs and escapes on one of their bikes.
Lisbeth finally tracks down Zalachenko and goes to confront him. She is captured. Niedermann digs a grave. Lisbeth tries to escape, but she is shot three times, once in the head, and buried. Yet she survives and manages to dig herself out with her cigarette case. She then plants an axe in Zalachenko’s head and leg. With Zalachenko’s gun, she chases off Niedermann. Only then does she collapse. Did I mention that the story is unlikely?
The movie ends with Blomkvist arriving to call the police and paramedics, who whisk both Lisbeth and Zalachenko, both of them still alive, off for treatment.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is a boring film. It clocks in at 2 hours, 9 minutes, but feels as long as The Lord of the Rings. There are many places in the film where a better director could create a great deal of suspense. But the real weakness is the underlying story, which is just a pulpy mishmash of one damn improbability after another, but filmed with the utmost seriousness.
Lisbeth Salander has to be the most unlikeable heroine in all of literature. Frankly, I cannot fathom the mind that would find her admirable. She strikes me as nothing but an embodiment of feminist paranoia and hatred. I can’t even feel sorry for her, since her suffering is so unlikely.
Larsson does not make it clear if all Swedish women are tied up and raped by every third Swedish man, or if Lisbeth is just accident prone. But clearly he thinks that a very high percentage of Swedish men are rapists, hence their need to import victims. In reality, however, it is the rapists, not the victims who come from abroad: Virtually all the rape and sexual exploitation of Swedish women is the handiwork of non-white immigrants, primarily Muslims — imported and championed by feminist, multicultural leftists like Stieg Larsson.
Furthermore, virtually all the trafficking in sex slaves in Russia and Eastern Europe is the handiwork of Jews, not ethnic Russians like Zalachenko. Larsson, moreover, was well aware of this connection, which we can infer from his studied attempt to invert reality. In one of the most interesting scene changes in the movie, we go from the discovery of the murdered couple to . . . a synagogue in Stockholm. A cell phone rings during the service, and a Jew answers. Is Larsson actually going to touch on the Jewish role in the sexual exploitation of Eastern European women? Of course not. This is Jan Bublanski, a policeman, one of the good guys, a real Mensch who is so concerned with helping his fellow man that he leaves his phone on in shul.
In spite of the Millennium Trilogy’s strident feminism, the truth is that for Larsson and the left in general, the safety of white women is trumped every time it conflicts with the overriding agenda of preserving Jewish power and promoting white race replacement.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an evil film, but it still manages to be engrossing. This is also an evil film, filled with lies. But the story is so stupid, the villains so laughably cardboard, the heroes so wetly liberal, and the directing so boring that it is not a particularly apt propaganda vehicle. It will be interesting to see what Hollywood can make of it.