Michael Nyqvist

Europa Report (2013, Sebastián Cordero)

Where to start with Europa Report. There are some obvious places. First, it’s in the near future but digital video is about as advanced as it was back in 2004. On a cell phone. Or, you know, the filmmakers wanted to cheap out on the special effects. Another place to start might be the music. Report is a “found footage” picture, yet there’s all this dramatically appropriate music from Bear McCreary. It’s possible one of the crew–the film concerns a manned mission to one of Jupiter’s moons–had an iPod, but why couldn’t that iPod have been used to shoot the video? It would have been sharper. I’ll skip the rest and just talk about

The film has two big problems in director Cordero and writer Philip Gelatt. Cordero tries to use the found footage gimmick to hide all of Gelatt’s contrived or derivative plotting points. Cordero also isn’t able to direct his actors through Gelatt’s dumber moments for them. Most of Report hinges on ostensible geniuses acting like morons.

There’s some really good acting in the film, however, which couldn’t have been easy for the cast because they’re stuck acting to the same stationary cameras. Cordero doesn’t do anything interesting with those fixed setups either. Being found footage does nothing to enhance Report, just makes it cheaper.

Christian Camargo and Karolina Wydra give the film’s best performances. Michael Nyqvist is really good. The rest of the cast is fine, sometimes good, sometimes not.

Report doesn’t get passing marks.



Directed by Sebastián Cordero; written by Philip Gelatt; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; edited by Alex Kopit, Craig McKay, Livio Sanchez and Aaron Yanes; music by Bear McCreary; production designer, Eugenio Caballero; produced by Kevin Misher and Ben Browning; released by Magnet Releasing.

Starring Christian Camargo (Dr. Daniel Luxembourg), Embeth Davidtz (Dr. Samantha Unger), Anamaria Marinca (Rosa Dasque), Michael Nyqvist (Andrei Blok), Daniel Wu (William Xu), Karolina Wydra (Dr. Katya Petrovna), Dan Fogler (Dr. Nikita Sokolov), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Dr. Tarik Pamuk) and Sharlto Copley (James Corrigan).

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009, Daniel Alfredson), the extended edition

The first half of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest falls victim to the Halloween II phenomenon. The main character–in this case Noomi Rapace–is in the hospital and out of commission. Hornet’s Nest is never comfortable giving insight into Rapace’s actions, which makes it a mildly pointless final entry.

I mean, a Hollywood ending was unlikely, but director Alfredson doesn’t seem to get he can’t flipflop between Rapace being the protagonist and subject.

So instead of Rapace, much of the film concerns Michael Nyqvist and Lena Endre bickering over magazine publishing issues and these evil old Swedish guys manipulating everyone. Some strong casting makes all the difference.

Niklas Falk shows up in this installment as an ally for Nyqvist and gives a complex performance in a small role. And Annika Hallin, as Nyqvist’s sister and Rapace’s lawyer, is fantastic. She owns the second half of Hornet’s Nest, which is basically a courtroom drama.

Or, you know, it could have been one if so much attention wasn’t paid to the bad guys.

Hornet’s Nest has a big problem with bad guys. There are real bad guys, the ones who actually hurt Rapace, and those who conspired against her. The latter are weak villains, the former are good though.

It’s not good–the endless first half reveals the ludicrousness of the story. It’s a huge conspiracy against a specific target, constantly introducing new plot contrivances.

The second half succeeds enough to forgive the first.

Until the soft ending anyway….



Directed by Daniel Alfredson; screenplay by Ulf Ryberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; director of photography, Peter Mokrosinski; edited by Håkan Karlsson; music by Jacob Groth; produced by Søren Stærmose; released by Nordisk Film.

Starring Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Erikson), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm), Georgi Staykov (Alexander Zalachenko), Aksel Morisse (Anders Jonasson), Niklas Hjulström (Ekström), Micke Spreitz (Ronald Niedermann), Anders Ahlbom (Dr. Peter Teleborian), Hans Alfredson (Evert Gullberg), Lennart Hjulström (Fredrik Clinton), Carl-Åke Eriksson (Bertil Janeryd), Per Oscarsson (Holger Palmgren), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij), Mirja Turestedt (Monica Figuerola) and Johan Kylén (Inspector Jan Bublanski).

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009, Daniel Alfredson), the extended edition

Calling The Girl Who Played with Fire pointless is an insult to all the other pointless sequels out there. Fire–and I’m sure it’s a faithful adaptation of the source novel, which is undoubtedly pointless as well–is the worst kind of sequel. It has no new story, so it just goes back and forces one out of the first film.

Oh, there’s the hint of a new story–something about human trafficking–but it’s all a MacGuffin to reveal Noomi Rapace’s protagonist is a mix of Riggs from Lethal Weapon and Luke Skywalker. Her character’s incredible change from the first film can likely be attributed to the bad fake tan Rapace wears at the beginning. It changed her brain chemistry.

Screenwriter Jonas Frykberg’s attempts to seriously discuss misogyny, while occasionally effective in the beginning, are tiresome by the end. He doesn’t believe in subtlety. Or in the need to plot well.

Since they’re adapting a popular novel, the filmmakers fill the runtime with useless scenes. Instead of fixing a badly plotted story, they stay faithful.

Rapace is okay, but can’t overcome the inane writing. Her erstwhile co-star Michael Nyqvist sort of wanders through the picture. The plot does him no favors.

As far as the supporting cast, there are only a couple standouts. Yasmine Garbi, Tanja Lorentzon and Per Oscarsson are good. Georgi Staykov is awful as Darth Vader.

Alfredson’s direction is dispassionate, but competent.

Fire might amuse as an example of contrived, predictable plotting… but little else.



Directed by Daniel Alfredson; screenplay by Jonas Frykberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; director of photography, Peter Mokrosinski; edited by Mattias Morheden; music by Jacob Groth; produced by Søren Stærmose; released by Nordisk Film.

Starring Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Peter Andersson (Nils Bjurman), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Erikson), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm), Reuben Sallmander (Enrico Giannini), Yasmine Garbi (Miriam Wu), Ralph Carlsson (Gunnar Björk), Georgi Staykov (Alexander Zalachenko), Hans Christian Thulin (Dag Svensson), Jennie Silfverhjelm (Mia Bergman), Per Oscarsson (Holger Palmgren), Sunil Munshi (Dr. Sivarnandan), Anders Ahlbom (Peter Teleborian) and Micke Spreitz (Ronald Niedermann).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, Niels Arden Oplev), the extended edition

There’s enough story for three really good movies in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, maybe even four. The film opens with two of them, a good, old fashioned journalism movie, and then the very serious experiences of Noomi Rapace. There’s some crossover, but it’s all contrived.

Then the film blossoms and has two more plots, one feeding into the other. First of these new plots is practically a Raymond Chandler story of a detective–sorry, investigative reporter (played by Michael Nyqvist)–investigating an old crime. The second plot is a serial killer one.

The tone changes throughout, with Rapace’s harrowing experiences being extremely disquieting, while the journalism thread is light and airy and the old crime investigation somewhat light too. There’s Sven-Bertil Taube as this old man trying to discover the truth. It’s light. Taube’s lovable.

The threads fail to synthesize, maybe because protagonist Nyqvist doesn’t have a character. Rapace’s character’s backstory is hidden (to have dramatic payoff later), but it’s obvious she has one. Nyqvist gets a couple mentions, but there’s nothing to the character.

Director Oplev is okay. He doesn’t compose particularly well, but he never sells Rapace’s character short. Her storyline, no matter how silly, is always handled with great care. Even when it’s an obvious or predictable scene.

Dragon Tattoo is definitely captivating. The two mysteries are compelling–the newspaper story ends terribly, in an inept montage–and Rapace’s story is devastating.

But Dragon Tattoo‘s a melodrama. Its entire purpose is to be devastating.



Directed by Niels Arden Oplev; screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; director of photography, Eric Kress; edited by Anne Østerud; music by Jacob Groth; production designer, Niels Sejer; produced by Søren Stærmose; released by Nordisk Film.

Starring Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Sven-Bertil Taube (Henrik Vanger), Peter Haber (Martin Vanger), Peter Andersson (Nils Bjurman), Marika Lagercrantz (Cecilia Vanger), Ingvar Hirdwall (Dirch Frode), Björn Granath (Gustav Morell), Ewa Fröling (Harriet Vanger), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Eriksson), Gunnel Lindblom (Isabella Vanger), Gösta Bredefeldt (Harald Vanger), Stefan Sauk (Hans-Erik Wennerström), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm) and Tomas Köhler (‘Plague’).

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