I’m glad I never got around to posting my review of the first movie in the Stieg Larsson Millenium crime novel series, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. I liked the movie, an atmospheric thriller with strong central protagonists, but hated a sub-plot that never connected to the main plot which involved graphic scenes of sadistic rape. I almost posted a whole long criticism of it.

Well, it turns out that subplot plays into the main plot of second movie, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Our two crime-solving heroes are back: Mikael Blomkvist, the hangdog muckraking journalist and Lisbeth Salander, the bisexual Goth hacker chick. This time, the story revolves more around Lisbeth, who is framed for three murders, and features some new memorable characters, including a professional boxer, a blonde giant incapable of feeling pain and a mysterious Russian spy who defected during the Cold War.

While the first movie was much more of a mystery, this second movie (directed by Daniel Alfredson from the adapted screenplay of Jonas Frykberg, a different team than did the first film) is more of a mistaken-identity thriller along the lines of North by Northwest. As such, the writer-director team opens up the action with some terrific set-pieces rather than delve deeply into the ostensible mystery involving a sex-trafficking ring.

My only problem with the film is that it ends abruptly, no doubt to stoke demand for the next Millenium murder mystery, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

If you don’t like reading subtitles, I guess you can wait for the American remake. No less than David Fincher and Steven Zaillian are developing it, and Daniel Craig and Carey Mulligan are attached. I think Fincher is a great director and Zaillian is a great writer, but I have my doubts about what they’ll add to what are already crackerjack crime stories.

So I highly recommend these films — and, if you’re extremely impatient, there’s a crazy old medium called books in which you can read all the stories right now…