A “communist Mary-Sue” was the scathing critique presented to me, and learning about Stieg Larsson’s fixations, the raison d’etre of the disjointed storyline of the first book/movie became clear.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is a far more coherent whole than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (natively titled “Men Who Hate Women”) and the main mystery links to the protagonists (though I guessed the major reveal early on). The trail of clues is pretty engaging, even though the antagonists are hopelessly sloppy.
I’m very lenient about political/ideological themes in my entertainment (whether I agree with them or not), as long as they are presented consistently and coherently. The Girl Who Played with Fire follows closely in its predecessor’s footsteps, focusing on fairly brutal vengeance upon men abusing women. This time the villains are sex slave traffickers and their customers, and Lisbeth has the taser, rope, mace and an axe work overtime dealing with them. “Message” did not overpower the entertainment of the film, and in some ways the thematic continuity was nice. One recurrence I didn’t like was the extremely tenuous connection between the Mary-Sue Blomqvist and Salander – avert your eyes if you don’t want to be (minorly) spoiled – they meet extremely late and briefly in the film. Also, it bugged me that “Miriam Wu” looked not-at-all Chinese.
I will see the third film shortly.