It’s not quite a case of sloppy seconds. Yet there is no denying the middle entry in the Swedish crime saga is a step down from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, whether you are reading the late Stieg Larsson’s novel or watching Daniel Alfredson’s film of it.
Where its predecessor was a dark cold case with a baroque twist, Fire is really no more than a murky police procedural with too many characters muddling its narrative.
Having established Michael Nyqvist’s investigative journo and Noomi Rapace’s goth hacker as a Thin Man duo for our age, it also seems downright perverse to then keep them apart in what should by rights have been a consolidation of their intriguing yin-yang partnership.
Still, there remains enough here to keep you gripped. Rapace’s quest to learn who has fitted her up for a triple murder pushes her resourcefulness to the limit, in a story that sees her terrorise one guy in zombie make-up, taser another in the nuts and get buried alive by a brother she never knew she had.
Nyqvist has it easy in comparison in a role that will doubtless be beefed up if the David fincher Tattoo remake also generates a sequel. (It’s unlikely, for instance, that Daniel Craig would be too happy being shut out of the only decent fisticuffs, dissected here in a brief featurette.)
The climax, meanwhile, is an impressively bloody set-piece that shows us, once and for all, that there really is something nasty in the woodshed.
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