Noomi Rapace

Passion (2012, Brian De Palma)

Moody lightning, false endings, a Pino Donaggio score–Passion is De Palma’s return to his overcooked Hitchcock homages and a gleeful one. More, De Palma’s aware of its place in his filmography–the film opens with a playful piece of music from Donaggio, preparing the audience for a pitch black comedy. And, for a long while–even through some unexpected developments–De Palma lets that impression continue.

Most of the film is Rachel McAdams behaving badly. She alternately grooms and torments one of her subordinates–Noomi Rapace–which soon sets the two women against each other. Throw in a shared love interest (Paul Anderson) and Rapace’s admiring assistant (Karoline Herfurth) and De Palma has his lurid setup.

There’s also the setting–Passion takes place in Germany, apparently. It’s unclear and just European for a while, but then a lot of the cast starts speaking German, just not the leads. And then all of a sudden Rapace starts speaking it and the setting is just another thing De Palma didn’t make clear for the audience.

The last third of the film is De Palma daring the audience to guess how he’s messing with them. Even when he makes things completely clear, he’s only doing it to further twist things.

Passion has good acting from Rapace and McAdams and De Palma is having a great time. His only ambition–besides giving his actors good scenes–is toying with the audience. Great editing from François Gédigier.

It’s far better than it should be.



Directed by Brian De Palma; screenplay by De Palma and Natalie Carter, based on a film written by Carter and Alain Corneau; director of photography, José Luis Alcaine; edited by François Gédigier; music by Pino Donaggio; production designer, Cornelia Ott; produced by Saïd Ben Saïd; released by ARP Sélection.

Starring Rachel McAdams (Christine Stanford), Noomi Rapace (Isabelle James), Karoline Herfurth (Dani), Paul Anderson (Dirk Harriman), Rainer Bock (Inspector Bach), Benjamin Sadler (Prosecutor), Michael Rotschopf (Isabelle’s Lawyer), Max Urlacher (Jack) and Dominic Raacke (J.J. Koch).

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).

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011, Guy Ritchie)

I think Guy Ritchie has to be the last blockbuster director who still likes bullet time. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has so much bullet time, one would think it’s from the late nineties. Sometimes Ritchie uses it pointlessly–there are some fight scenes with it and it doesn’t work so well. In contrast, Ritchie also does an action sequence in profile without bullet time and it works much better.

The one time the bullet time is awesome is when Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law (and their gypsy sidekicks) are on the run from some mechanized artillery. Ritchie and his effects people show the weapons working in (digitized) close detail, then zooming back (digitally) to show their effect. Sherlock is supposed to be a blockbuster… not sure having some amazing realization of historical weapons–for a limited audience–is the way to go.

The film’s a very long two hours. The story itself doesn’t fully get moving until about forty minutes into the picture, when Downey first meets arch villain Jared Harris. It gets boring at times, even showing signs subplots got the axe, but it’s always amiable.

Downey’s excellent, Law’s funny and Ritchie, except indulging a little much, does all right.

Noomi Rapace is nothing special as their sidekick, but Stephen Fry’s hilarious in a smaller role and Rachel McAdams is pleasant. Paul Anderson does well as another villain.

Once again, against the odds (and itself) a Sherlock outing proves to be a diverting motion picture experience.



Directed by Guy Ritchie; screenplay by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle; director of photography, Philippe Rousselot; edited by James Herbert; music by Hans Zimmer; production designer, Sarah Greenwood; produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr. John Watson), Noomi Rapace (Madam Simza Heron), Jared Harris (Professor James Moriarty), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade), Kelly Reilly (Mary Watson), Stephen Fry (Mycroft Holmes), Paul Anderson (Colonel Sebastian Moran), Thierry Neuvic (Claude Ravache), Geraldine James (Mrs. Hudson) and Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler).

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’).

Prometheus (2012, Ridley Scott)

Given its $120 million price tag, one might think Prometheus would have a script above Internet fan fiction. It does not. Director Scott is more than happy to run with a dumb script–which often forgets subplots and story threads, not to mention is full of pointless action scenes. Prometheus tries very hard to be smart; it fails miserably. It’s also really boring for a two hour sci-fi action movie.

A lot of its stupidity is forgivable. What isn’t particularly forgivable is how Scott, after distancing the project from Alien in the press, has all sorts of eye roll inducing Alien references in it. He does have quite a few really smart 2001 homages, however. His mishandling of the film is bewildering.

For example, most of his casting is fantastic. Michael Fassbender is amazing as the android; he’s kind of bad (an unoriginal development), but still sympathetic. That sympathy’s partially due to his primary antagonist–one of the film’s protagonists, Logan Marshall-Green–giving a laughably atrocious performance. Marshall-Green is the only weak actor. Top-billed Noomi Rapace barely makes an impression thanks to Scott’s inexplicable emphasis on Marshall-Green.

In major supporting roles, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron are excellent. The rest of the large cast make little impression; Scott can’t handle them.

Dariusz Wolski’s photography is lovely, the special effects are great, Marc Streitenfeld’s music is solid.

Scott decided instead of shooting for a good Alien prequel, Prometheus should be pretentious and stupid. Bully for him.



Directed by Ridley Scott; written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof; director of photography, Dariusz Wolski; edited by Pietro Scalia; music by Marc Streitenfeld; production designer, Arthur Max; produced by David Giler, Walter Hill and Scott; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Idris Elba (Janek), Sean Harris (Fifield), Rafe Spall (Millburn), Emun Elliott (Chance), Benedict Wong (Ravel) and Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland).

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