Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teenage Dirtbag.

It's my little brother Tom's 13th birthday today! I cannot believe that that adorable little bb is now a teenager! Lad! So, to celebrate, I thought I'd share some of my favourite photos of him, to cherish his adorable memories before he turns into a gobshite, haha. ;)
















Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fernandon't Scorres.

Chelsea signed Fernando Torres for a club record of £50 million from Liverpool on 31st January with the weight of the world on his skinny shoulders. By the time Chelsea signed him, the title race was realistically only between Manchester United and Arsenal, but for the price that Abramovich shelled out for him as well as his preceding reputation, it was only natural that Chelsea fans – and all football fans, for that matter – expected at least some goals from him, if not immediately, then at least imminently. However, if (500) Days of Summer taught Miss Bung anything, then it’s that the expectation and the reality are very rarely the same. And what happened in that film -- Joseph G-L expecting to find a loving Zooey Deschanel in his arms when he really found her kissing another man, is not a bad analogy for Fernando Torres' failed love affair with Chelseabung. Carlo Ancelotti, for his part, tried everything he could to get Torres to score. He played Torres with Kalou. He played Torres with Drogba. He played Torres with Anelka. He played Torres with Drogba and Anelka. But, for all the want in the world, Fernando Torres still hasn't hit the net. Chelsea fans are impatient, Carlo Ancelotti is worried, Roman Abramovich just smiles that silent steely smile that is impossible to read but can so easy signal difficulty. And still, Fernando Torres has scored the same amount of goals for Chelsea as David Cameron, Olalla Torres (his wife), even the frogs in my garden. On the back of a soul-shattering defeat to Manchester United last night that knocks Chelsea out of the CL and effectively ends our awful season, I thought I’d take a look at Torres’ contributions in the games since he's joined Chelsea. After all, didn’t Miley Cyrus say, it’s all about the climb? Giggity.

Chelsea vs Liverpool, 6th February (Chelsea lose 1-0)
The football gods would just so have it that the first game Torres was available to play for Chelsea was that against his old club, of whom he’d gone from beloved son to reviled Judas. Football fans all over the world were rubbing their hands together at the anticipation of Torres scoring against the club that nurtured him into one of the world’s superstars, if only to see how he would celebrate after he scored. They needn’t have worried; Torres was off-form, as were most of the Chelsea team and a Liverpool side with a point to prove could easily have scored more than the one they did; a shot from Meireles. Following their spirited 4-2 win in the mid-week against Sunderland (which Torres was ineligible to play in) in which Nicolas Anelka had been deployed more as a midfielder than his natural forward role and absolutely thrived, giving one of his finest performances in a Chelsea shirt, Carlo Ancelotti attempted a three-man attack with Anelka, Torres and Didier Drogba upfront, but it was an experiment that failed miserably. The sad truth is that, had Ancelotti played just Anelka and Drogba in a straightforward 4-4-2, Chelsea had the quality to defeat Liverpool that day. But, with Roman Abramovich in the audience watching his new buy, that simply wasn’t an option for the Italian. Poor tactics, a miserable Chelsea performance and a good Liverpool team meant that Chelsea suffered their second home loss this season. Hardly the meeting against his old club that Torres would have dreamed of.

Fulham vs Chelsea, 14th February (scoreless draw)
There was little romance for Torres in this Valentine’s Day West London derby, in which a solid Fulham defence and some errant finishing from the Spaniard meant Torres was yet to be in a winning game for Chelsea. Ancelotti benched Drogba, so it was Torres and Anelka upfront for Chelsea, but the two exhibited little cohesion playing alongside each other, Anelka spending the majority of the game in his standard sulk-face. In fact, the player that truly shone for Chelsea in this game was the other expensive January acquisition, David Luiz, who, despite it being his debut premier league start, played like a veteran of the premier league. He was here, he was there, he was defending, attacking, creating chances; in other words, all the things Torres wasn’t do. Chelsea were unlucky, and should probably have had a penalty when Hangeland felled Malouda, but in the last minute, Man of the Match David Luiz’s lapse led to Chelsea conceding a penalty. The American Clint Dempsey’s penalty was poor and Petr Cech’s save was brilliant, meaning that whilst Chelsea should have won, they were lucky not to lose. "Are you Torres in disguise?" the Fulham fans jeered at Drogba in the second half when he misplaced a hit. Quite.

Copenhagen vs Chelsea, 22nd February (Chelsea win 2-0)
In between this Champions League knockout stages game, Chelsea’s luck went from bad to worse when they got knocked out of the FA Cup to Everton on penalties (a game Torres was ineligible to play in due to being Cup-tied) thanks to two very questionable penalties from Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole. The Frenchman, again employed alongside Torres upfront with Drogba yet again sat on the bench chewing bubble gum and looking glum, atoned himself somewhat in this game, in which two classy finishes from him secured two priceless away goals for Chelsea, temporarily easing the pressure on under-fire gaffer Ancelotti. Before the game, Chelsea captain John Terry issued a rallying cry to his team, urging them to “Man Up”, and his words seemed to have worked; Chelsea looked more assured and together, albeit playing against “lesser” opposition. Torres had the occasional moment of brilliance but was once again frustrated by the Copenhagen defence and his own inability to finish in a Chelsea shirt.

Chelsea vs Manchester United, 1st March (Chelsea win 2-1)
The team against my most despised oppositions in the whole wide world; needless to say, I was wasted. Yet again, it was Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres starting for Chelsea, but there were so many other back stories surrounding this fixture that the Spaniard’s goal drought actually took the sideshow for the first time in a month. For one, Ashley Cole had recently wounded a Chelsea work experience student with a rifle, whilst Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney should have suspended for the game following his elbow on Wigan’s James McCarthy. However, he was allowed to play, and it was he who opened the scoring (grr) in the first half, meaning that, at half-time, not only were Chelsea’s title ambitions out the window, but their chances of securing a CL slot for next season was looking precarious. But in the second half, they showed Manchester United what they were made of. Chelsea new boy David Luiz, who as in the game against Fulham, played a belter, equalised shortly after half-time with a finish that any striker would be proud of, before Smalling tripped up Zhirkov in the penalty area in the 78th minute to allow Frank Lampard to make like Jamie Redknapp tells his son to do in the latest Wii advert - and smash a penalty down the middle, leading to a precious, precious Chelsea win that had me so delirious that on just two pints, I was ALL OVER THE PLACE.

If truth be told, luck was on Chelsea’s side that Tuesday; David Luiz was lucky not to be sent off and Zhirkov’s fall, whilst a legitimate penalty, could just have easily been shrugged off (and in another game, possibly would have been.) However, Carlo Ancelotti, and Chelsea fans weren’t complaining. Torres played well and looked more comfortable with Anelka than he had done in previous games, and funnily enough, it was the fourth time that a game in which he’d played against Nemanja Vidic had resulted in a red card for the Serbian; Vidic being sent off for two bookable offences. Drogba came on for Anelka with half an hour left and the Ivorian saw out the rest of the game in majestic style; the way he took one for the team, when he himself is every bit the superstar that Torres is, was brilliant to see. Chelseabung got lucky in that game, but I wouldn't get too happy, the two upcoming fixtures against Man Utd meant that the luck debt was fully repaid.
Blackpool vs Chelsea, 7th March (Chelsea win 3-1)

Following that morale-boosting win over Utd, Ancelotti pushed the boat out and paired Torres with Drogba (there’s your FIFA dream team) against Blackpool, who, despite fighting the relegation battle, were far from pushovers at home, having scored in every home game this season. However, it was a defender who opened the scoring for Chelsea, John Terry heading powerfully from a Frank Lampard corner in the first half to separate the two sides. In the second half, Drogba picked up a minor knock, but Anelka, his planned replacement, didn’t look at all happy to be coming on, so Ancelotti bunged Kalou on instead, and serendipity would have it that that substitution really swung the game in Chelsea’s favour. Having spent a few minutes on the pitch, Torres sculpted a pass to Kalou to which the Ivorian was felled, giving Chelsea a penalty, to which Lampard dispatched with signature coolness. Kalou and Lampard then combined coolly to score Chelsea’s third, before Blackpool themselves collected a consolation goal. Salomon Kalou, the somewhat “forgotten” player of Chelsea’s four attackers in the wake of Torres’ arrival, gave an excellent account of himself in his performance, and Torres looked more content playing alongside him in a 4-4-1-1 formation that asked lots of questions of Blackpool’s defence.

Chelsea vs Copenhagen, 16th March (scoreless draw)
It was time for Torres to experience starting on the bench, though Ancelotti reasoned that he was resting him for game against Man City that weekend. This meant that the tried-and-tested strikeforce of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka was employed, and although the game saw no goals, it did allow the former to show what a world class player he was. Some of his interplay was absolutely delicious, and had it not been for some lacklustre finishing from Yuri Zhirkov, this Drogba->Cole->Zhirkov could have resulted in one of the best team goals in recent history. Torres came on for a brief while in the second half and the two goal cushion from the first leg allowed for some indulgence on Chelsea’s part; Lampard could have scored towards the end but chose to tee it off to Torres in the hope that the Spaniard would get his first Chelsea goal. It didn’t work, but the thought was there; despite what naysayers may like to think, Torres’ teammates are just as eager/desperate for him to hit the net as he is.

Chelsea vs Manchester City, 20th March (Chelsea win 2-0)
Alas, the CL-slot six-pointer, as well as the clash of the nouvelle-riche vs the newer-nouvelle-riche. Manchester City came with one game plan: 0-0, and thanks to some staunch defending from Vincent Kompany (one of the underrated performers this season) and the City defence, that they almost got. However, the curly-haired, twinkle-toed, goal-scoring defender David Luiz had other ideas, and when he won a free-kick in the 78th minute which Drogba dispatched, he was there to pounce and bung it in the net. In stoppage time, his compatriot Ramires shimmied past two City defenders to slot in Chelsea’s second against Joe Hart, meaning the West London side gleefully leapfrogged City in the league table. Eyebrows were raised when it was noted that both Anelka and Drogba were benched and it was actually Kalou who started alongside Torres, but the Ivorian more than justified his start, and following the strength of their performances together against Blackpool, I’d say the move was bold, but, considering Chelsea won, it paid off. As usual, Torres' contribution to the match was limited, but he did at least wear a cute blue headband that was the exact same shade as his Chelsea strip. Blair Waldorf, eat your heart out!

Stoke vs Chelsea, 2nd April (1-1 draw)
Following an international break, in which Torres disappointed for Spain against the Czech Republic (but at least partook is a display of some sweet Chelsea fraternity at the end when he and Cech had a moment), Ancelotti started with Anelka and Drogba, perhaps with the view of resting Torres for the midweek showdown against Manchester United, and sat next to the perpetually-sweet face of Salomon Kalou on the Chelsea bench, Torres didn't look too chuffed about it. And Chelsea could only salvage a 1-all draw from what was actually a surprisingly even game, Drogba scoring the equaliser for the visiters; both sides had chances aplenty. Torres and Kalou came on for Drogba and Anelka in the second half, but, surprise surprise, the Spaniard didn't score. Again.

Chelsea vs Manchester United, 6th April (Chelsea lose 1-0)
In what was the most important game of Chelsea's season, luck was most certainly not on their side and they slumped to a morale-crushing 1-0 home loss thanks to Wayne Rooney's  goal in the first half. Carlo Ancelotti tried to play 4-4-2 with both the ~FIFA superstars~ Drogba and Torres upfront, but it failed as it did against Blackpool, and unlike against Blackpool, the rest of Chelsea were unable to pick up the slack. Much as it pained me to say it, Rio Ferdinand, coming back from huge spell of injury, had Torres' number, and Drogba, though his feet did all they could, his face told the story of a deeply discontent man. Ramires should have won a penalty and Evra should have been sent off, but this is Chelsea in the CL, when has "should" ever had a damn thing to do with anything?! To be fair, Torres did have one shot that did look to be going in if it weren't for Edwin van der Saar's brilliance, but, that he was booked for diving towards the end of the night summed up a deeply frustrating game for Chelsea on the platform of the CL, the thing they want more than anything else.

Chelsea vs Wigan, 9th April (Chelsea win 1-0)
A very unconvincing win for the home side, against a team who, in their previous two fixtures, they'd aggregated a mass scoreline of 14-0. In the end, Malouda scored the winner in a goalline kefuffle, in which Torres, ironically, did actually play a part - by impeding the Wigan goalkeeper. On the same day, Chelsea's loanee forwards Borini smacked one in for Swansea City, and Danny Sturridge scored two majestic goals for Bolton, bringing his tally since transfering to Bolton up to six. What Torres would give to just one of those six goals. Chelsea loan out one of their strikers who is scoring for fun and spend millions on a player who couldn't hit the proverbial cow's arse with the proverbial banjo? Now that, Alanis...

Manchester United vs Chelsea, 12th April (Chelsea lose 2-1)
But I speak on behalf of all Chelsea fans when I say that we would have gladly put our what-ifs on hold if Torres repaid the faith that Ancelotti showed in him, repaid the millions that Roman spent on him and repaid the hours of us fighting his corner when his former blatantly didn't deserve it, with a brace against Manchester United. But it wasn't to be. And to be honest, I  think that as soon as Chelsea fans knew that it wasn't to be, although that didn't stop us from hoping, praying, wanting. But what you can want something as much as you want, it doesn't actually get you it. Torres was so poor in the first half (The Guardian rated his performance a 4/10, only 2 points more than what they gave Crouchie for his performance against Real Madrid -- and he got sent off) that Ancelotti had no choice but to withdraw him for Drogba, who, in the second half, played his heart out. Even when Chelsea were down to 10 men, and chasing a 2-0 deficit, he ran and ran, sought loss causes, and neveve up. Drogba was aptly repaid by a brilliant goal, though in the end, it counted for nothing more than pride as Park Ji Sung scored another practically seconds later. It does raise a pertinent point, though. Carlo Ancelotti, last night, could have seeked to do one of two things, get to the final four of the CL, or appease Roman Abramovich by playing the footballer he spent so much on. In the end, Ancelotti got neither. The woe that befell Chelsea fans after this match is too great to even begin writing about, but I have to admit that this year, with the teams that we put out, we just didn't look good enough. I feel bad for players like Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech, who are amazing. But mostly, I feel for Didier Drogba. He, arguably, out of the entire Chelsea squad, has had his nose put out of joint most by Fernando Torres' arrival. Yet even on his form, which isn't the greatest, he is playing Torres off the pitch. Didier Drogba is a superstar, one of the best forwards in the world, but with 27-year-old Torres being paraded in front of his 33-year-old self, he can't help but wonder where he fits in at Chelsea. But I do so hope he stays, because he is an amazing footballer and an even more amazing man. We may have lost but I'm delighted Didi scored. He, more than anyone, deserved his moment last night.

So all this leaves Chelsea in somewhat of a quagmire (can you tell I've been on a Family Guy binge recently? Can ya?!). They have a £50million, perpetually injured striker who couldn't score in a brothel. They have zero chance of any silverwear this season, and the only thing left to fight for his for third and fourth slot, which is between them, Spurs and Manchester City. The malaise that I, and I imagine all Chelsea fans are currently in is immeasurable, and Carlo Ancelotti best sleep with one eye open if Roman's wrath is anything to be believed. It would be churlish -- and downright unfair -- to lay blame all of Chelsea's problems with Torres (we screwed up our title challenge long before he came along and he was ineligble to play in the FA Cup matches which we screwed up), but at the same time it would be blind to suggest he played no part in the massively dissappointing two games against Manchester United, which were, to be honest, the ones that mattered the most by far. Nicolas Anelka is a gem and has come out and said he "doesn't mind" not starting that much, knowing that as he's over 30 and at a club with four forwards, he needs to be realistic. However, Drogba and Salomon Kalou are clearly thinking over their options. Kalou is 25, an adorable sweetheart and a terrific little utility player for Chelsea, but when he was at Feyenoord with Dirk Kuyt, the two were tearing defences up, and Kalou must secretly pine for the days when he started almost every game, as opposed to for Chelsea, where if he's lucky, he'll get 10 minutes, and if he's very very lucky, he'll get a start, despite the fact that his goals-to-shots ratio has been far better than Torres'. The Fernando Torres jokes come in thick and fast ("Did you hear about my Torres night out?! I spent loads of money, had loads of shots but in the end didn't even score!" is a popular one, as is the website,, which I don't believe will need updating until 2014) and I meet them sometimes with a bittersweet chuckle, sometimes with an ingrained need to defend by team -- and thus Torres. I know Roman Abramovich is a billionaire and can do whatever the hell he wants, but next time, I'd really appreciate it if he approached such a big-sum spending with a little more prudence. Torres and Drogba may score feckloads on FIFA, but, sry2say, Roman, life isn't a game of FIFA. Oh how I wish it was, but nah. At the end of the day, I'll support any player in a Chelsea shirt, even massive flops like Mateja Kezman, but this Torres escapade is all getting a little disappointing.  If I had to do the same again, well, er, I most certainly wouldn't do the same, my friend, Fernando.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

All the things that make us laugh and cry.

Recently I’ve really gotten into Seth McFarlene’s Family Guy and American Dad!. I gave his The Cleveland Show a watch too, but it really did nothing for me. However, the other two shows, I feel, are modern masterpieces, and never fail to cheer me up when I’ve had a bad day with their mixture of bad taste, visual humour and good ol’ family values. So it got me thinking, how would I rank the characters? And this is what I came up with.

01. Stewie Griffin
02. Brian Griffin
03. Roger
04. Stan Smith
05. Meg Griffin
06. Steve Smith
07. Francine Smith
08. Chris Griffin
09. Peter Griffin
10. Hayley Smith
11. Lois Griffin
12. Klaus Heissler

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The night Peter Crouch-ed and Bern-ed.

In series 1, episode 17 of Glee, Mr Schue tells Quinn Fabray, of the trials and tribulations of high School: “A couple of bad decisions and you go from the top to the bottom”. He could just as easily have been talking about football. For Spurs in the Champions League, Peter Crouch was one of their star men; where he has disappointed in the league this season, he has more than made up for in the big European platform with goals against the likes of Inter and AC Milan, some of them pivotal ones (he scored the winning goal against AC Milan that was the difference between the two sides). In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that, yesterday, going into the first leg of their quarter final clash with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, he was just as integral to Tottenham’s plans as their wing wizard Gareth Bale, whom the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp had valued at £80million.

Unfortunately, the big occasion got to the big man. In eight minutes, Peter Crouch made two rash tackles. The first, on Sergio Ramos, was misplaced and mis-timed. The second on Marcelo, when he was already on a yellow, was downright stupid. Even as – what I consider to be – the biggest Crouchie fan in the world, there is no justifying his two idiotic tackles. He rightful sending was essentially the catalyst for Tottenham’s implosion at the BernabĂ©u. At that point they were 1-0 down, but with almost three hours ahead of them, had everything to play for. The match ended 4-0 with the return leg at White Hart Lane next Wednesday (of which my younger brother will be attending as his 13th birthday "present"), looking like nothing more than a formality. In the space of eight minutes, Peter Crouch went from hero to zero.

Even with the best will in the world, I cannot find any ways to justify Peter Crouch’s two awful tackles. All I can do is examine them and attempt to delve into the black hole that is a footballer’s mind – and try to explain them. The first element, I think, is the psychological. Before the game, Peter Crouch had been talked up, down and all around by various members of the English and Spanish media, not to mention Real Madrid players themselves. Former Arsenal player Emmanuel Adebayor said of his fellow lanky striker, “When I was playing in England I always loved a lot of Tottenham players, especially Peter Crouch”. The much-maligned Togo striker completed an acrimonious move north of London to Manchester to play for Man City, and was in the side that lost to Spurs on the 5th May 2010 in what was dubbed as the “Fourth Place Showdown”, in which Crouch gave his counterpart Adebayor a masterclass in how to maintain possession, pass to teammates, and above all, score. Yet, yesterday, Adebayor hit the net twice, and played majestically, whereas Crouch walked after 15 minutes, so there is no question who came out the winner this time round.

Elsewhere, where Adebayor talked Crouch up, former Chelsea defender and Mourinho faithful Ricardo Carvalho took particular glee in talking the 6’7” striker down. He claimed that Peter Crouch “was easy to play against.” Whether he genuinely thought that, or he was just trying to psyche the England man out, we’ll never know, but he certainly succeeded in unsettling Crouch, because those words clearly had their impact; Crouch is by nature a mild-mannered footballer who doesn’t make a habit of making rash tackles. Yet he dished out two tackles yesterday that would probably have made Nigel De Jong shudder. There’s a sort of grim humour in thinking that Mourinho still hasn’t ended his constant mind-games, but the chants of “Tonto!” directed at Crouch by the Real Madrid fans obviously aren’t totally inaccurate; Carvalho played Crouch like a five dollar banjo.

It’s a massive shame because as I have mentioned, it’s hardly as if Peter Crouch as been setting the premier league alight with his scoring this season. He has played very well with Rafael van der Vaart, no doubt about it, and he has provided the majority of the Dutchman’s assists in the league, but Crouch invariably would have wished to scored more himself; many Spurs fan often question why Crouch plays so much and Pavlyuchenko so little. The Champions League is (was?) the one platform where he truly shone this season, scaring the majority of defenders senseless with his unusual frame and playing style. That he has done so much for Spurs in the CL this season will instantly be forgotten. It is irrelevant that he was such a huge factor in putting them in the Quarter Finals, because it is also he who has almost single-handedly prevented them from progressing further. The Guardian gave his performance against AC Milan in the first leg at the San Siro a 9/10, a score they very rarely dish out unless in the face of true excellence. What did they give him for his performance last night? A two. And the sad thing is, that was being generous.

With Tottenham staring at the bleak pit of Champions League exit and facing an uphill battle with Chelsea and Manchester City for the two remaining Champions League places in the premier league, the only way Peter Crouch can go from here is up. That’s the thing about football, it goes hand in hand with failure, with wrath, with moments of madness. But it is also ten-a-penny with redemption. As Stuart Pearce demonstrated with his penalty for England in Euro 96, the road to personal atonement lies in football. I began with a quote from one of my favourite shows, Glee, so I’ll end with another quote from another one of my favourite shows, Sex and the City. Our protagonist, Carrie, has just embarrassed herself hugely in tripping up on a catwalk, in front of hundreds of people. She has a choice, run away and hide, or get up, and proudly get on with it. She does the latter. Why? Because, as she reasons, “When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep walking.” In 1990, Stuart Pearce fell down. In 1996, he pulled himself back up. Now it is up to Peter Crouch, and Peter Crouch alone, to do the same.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

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

A year on Lisbeth Salander’s minor victory from the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the eponymous character back in Stockholm. Mikael Blomkvist, who’s magazine Millenium, she had helped gain back a legitimacy in the first film, is now investigating sex trafficking. At the same time, a bunch of murders (including that o the lawyer who raped Salander in the first film) occur, framing Salander for the murders. Lisbeth Salander knows it’s time to go on the run. She also knows that someone is after her.

As with the first film, what makes The Girl Who Played with Fire is Noomi Rapace in the lead role. With her short spikey blame hair, multiple facial piercings and tattoos and skinny frame, she is the physical embodiment of Lisbeth Salander, but her performance is just as noticeable, if not more so, than her physical attributes. In one scene, where she has a man tied up by the neck and is trying to extract the truth from him, face painted white (for some reason), Rapace’s reactions to learning each new fact totally mirror our own. It will be interesting to see how Rooney Mara, who turned heads as Jesse Eisenberg’s love interest in The Social Network, will fill her shoes in David Fincher’s big-budget Hollywood adaptation of the series. From the photos, she looks every bit the part, but Mara has her work cut out filling Rapace’s shoes.

What distinguishes this instalment of the film from the first is that here, we delve deeper into Lisbeth’s murky past, with the reasoning behind her cold exterior illustrated somewhat, especially when we find out why she was labelled “incompetent” in the first place, and what she did to get herself thrown into scare. At the same time, as events become progressively more sinister, Lisbeth comes to accept that sometimes, she can’t handle the world entirely by herself, and becomes more receptive to the held from her friends. At the top of these people is Mikael Blomkvist, who’s belief in Lisbeth’s innocence never falters for a second. As anyone who has read the books will know, the Mikael/Lisbeth will they/won’t they romantic subplot is ongoing throughout the trilogy, and the natural chemistry between the two actors is likeable and believable. Unfortunately they spend much of this film apart, but even so, the way they communicate via short, staccato messages through computers (which Lisbeth hacks expertly) all builds to what I feel is one of the on-screen duos of the 2000s.

That the film is not quite as thrilling as the first is more down to two things. Firstly, the whole “missing person” plotline of the first was a little more interesting. Secondly, it is due to the very high precedent set by the first film. From some scenes, it is easy to see how these two films, and the finale, were adapted into a six-part TV mini-series in its homeland Sweden, as production value is generally not the highest. But, nonetheless, The Girl Who Played With Fire is an intense, well-sculpted bit of filmmaking, worth watching, and one that doesn’t shy away from the dark underbelly of the Swedish underworld. I eagerly await seeing the third.