Who's In It: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist
The Basics: Mikael Blomkvist is back for round two of this gruesome procedural franchise, as is his muckraking Millenium magazine, and this time one of his young journalism protégés is working on a piece exposing a Swedish sex-trafficking ring. When the journalist is assassinated and dour young Lisbeth--who made herself really scarce at the end of the last movie--resurfaces only to find herself framed for murders she didn't commit, a new episode of Law and Order: Extremely Cold Cases can begin. Twists, yes, many more grim, frostbitten twists, just like that last movie. Sit back and let them freeze your soul.
What's The Deal: Unlike the first installment, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there's not a lot of in-your-face raping going on, so the investigation angle is really where it's at here. That means its both less lurid and more dependent on holding your interest based on clues and conversations alone. And it does that exactly like it should. It may not be as flamboyantly disturbing as its predecessor, but it's still a really satisfying middlebrow serving of unpleasant Swedish detective-thrills.
Based On: The monstrously successful mystery novel series by the late Stieg Larsson. He died suddenly in 2004 and left behind three books in a trilogy that have sold millions of copies all over the world. And at one more sequel is on the way. (This is the biggest movie series ever to come out of Sweden, even bigger than the Pippi Longstocking films, with the Hollywood version due in 2012.) I know, I know. I lifted this bit almost wholesale from my review of Dragon Tattoo, but I figured some of you might be latecomers to the party.
How It's Like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle: Much like Neil Patrick Harris's role in the stoner comedy franchise, this one features famous Swedish-Italian boxer Paolo Roberto as an alternate-universe version of himself. He's also a character in the book and he reportedly didn't learn about it until it was published. If you've never heard of him before you'll know when he shows up. He mostly punches people here, so it's not like he was asked to stretch that much.
Fans Of Trees, Take Note: The cinematography, almost like a tranquil counterpoint to the ugly crimes taking place on screen, make you feel like moving to Sweden would be the coolest, most gorgeous decision you ever made. And this is all while people are busy smashing each other in the face and getting themselves buried alive.