The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Review


Weakest entry in the Millennium Trilogy is still worth your time.

The journey began with a death. At the time of his passing in 2004, Expo editor Stieg Larsson left behind the manuscripts of three completed novels. Published posthumously, the novels comprised a series known as the Millennium Trilogy and centered on a pair of characters: Lisbeth Salander, an antisocial computer hacker with a photographic memory and trust issues, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and publisher of Millennium magazine. The novels would become a worldwide sensation selling more than 27 million copies.

While the rest of the world has already seen the release of the cinematic adaptations of Stieg Larrson’s trilogy, distribution in the United States didn’t come until this year. It was definitely worth the wait. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great mystery and an even better film. The Girl Who Played with Fire is a taut revenge thriller. The third and final installment, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is a good thriller, but never quite reaches the levels of its predecessors. A little more than 600 pages in length, the filmmakers were at a disadvantage. Stieg Larrson had envisioned that his series of mysteries would span upwards of ten novels. But with his death, audiences and readers were left with no real closure dealing with Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael’s (Michael Nyqvist) relationship. Outside of the conventional thriller elements and the unsettling issues with the treatment of women, it is their mutual affection for one another that remains one of the most compelling features of the novels and films. And though it may end unresolved, there’s always the lingering thought of what’s next for Lisbeth and Mikael.

Picking up moments after The Girl Who Played with Fire ends, Lisbeth is rushed to a nearby hospital, clinging to life from gunshots she sustained from her father and half-brother. The police charge her with attempted murder. In order to protect its secrets, a shadow organization known as “The Section,” to which Lisbeth’s father was a part of, intends to influence the decision of the court and have her committed to Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl), the doctor who treated Lisbeth when she attempted to kill her father once before when she was twelve. Meanwhile, Mikael and his co-workers at Millennium are busily mounting a defense for Lisbeth in the court of public opinion. Determined to expose the conspiracy involving her and the other parties therein, Mikael ultimately jeopardizes those close to him as he lets his ego get in the way of welfare.

The problem with Hornet’s Nest is that Lisbeth’s screen time has shrunk considerably. Most of the time she’s either recuperating in a hospital bed or behind bars waiting for her appearances in court. When she is free to move around, it doesn’t feel nearly enough. Considering that Noomi Rapace’s performance is a fascinating watch, to see it given so little exposure in this installment is disheartening, especially since she was the primary focus in The Girl Who Played with Fire.

The manner in which the film is constructed is another issue. Daniel Alfredson, who also directed the second in the series, makes the film a plodding affair for much of the first hour. With Lisbeth bedridden what we’re left with is mostly exposition with no action. Things get a little more interesting when Lisbeth gets access to her cell phone with e-mail and Internet connectivity and gets assistance from her hacker friend, Plague. But Lisbeth’s shining moment is during her trial for attempted murder. The way Noomi Rapace commands our attention with her appearance and calculated responses is the reason why Lisbeth Salander is such an adored character.

Although this film can’t match the greatness of its previous installments, as a whole the Millennium Trilogy is one of the best cinematic highlights of 2010.  Unlike The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, which can stand on its own as a singular work, to get the most out of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, watching The Girl Who Played with Fire is a must.

Director: Daniel Alfredson
Notable Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl, Mikael Spreitz
Writer(s): Jonas Frykberg, Ulf Ryberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

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