The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (2009) Rated R (for strong violence, some sexual material and brief violence) Dir: Daniel Alfredson. Language: Swedish
This film opens Friday, October 29th in selected theaters.
Directed by Daniel Alfredson, the third and last of the Millennium trilogy based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest continues where the second one left off. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is in intensive care at the hospital after a bullet wound in her head. Once she recovers, she will stand trial for three murders. Her friend, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) decide to help her prove her innocence as well as identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed her to suffer abuse and violence.
I really enjoyed the first of the series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (my review). Expertly directed by Niels Arden Oplev, it was horrifying to watch sometimes, but always engrossing, the characterizations were strong, and the director’s style and details were intricate. It was a strong thriller. Daniel Alfredson took over for the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire (my review). The film wasn’t nearly as good. The plot meanders along, while mostly playing off the strength of the first film. You know there’s a problem with a film when all the best parts are in flashbacks. The characters felt less complex, the film consisted of loose ends and clichés, and had pacing issues. While pacing is still an issue in this third film, Hornet’s Nest, it is more focused, and there are less loose ends.
This film is mainly a court drama, with a little bit of suspense thrown in afterwards. Unfortunately, it takes a good while to get to the good parts. For about a good 2/3 of the film, Lisbeth is stuck in the hospital under police custody. During this time, Mikael is trying to build a case for Lisbeth while Lisbeth develops a friendship with a doctor who is treating her. Admittedly, Lisbeth as a character simply isn’t as interesting when she is bedridden. The pace picks up considerably for the latter part of the film, when Lisbeth is out and about. The scary blonde bad guy returns again to kill Lisbeth, setting up some great moments of suspense.
Noomi Rapace is as good as ever as Lisbeth. Despite the script’s shortcomings, Rapace remains truthful and consistent with her character. I have to say I have been disappointed how in the sequels she seemed cold and mysterious again right when it seemed like she was opening up as a character by the end of the first film. It may just be the lack of subtle details in the script. Michael Nyqvist plays Mikael Blomkvist close to how he was in the second film-he is likeable and sympathetic, but just isn’t as hungry or intense as he used to be. Despite the troubles happening around him, it rarely ever feels like he’s in real danger, unlike in the first film. Mikael Spreitz is still pretty creepy as Lisbeth’s quiet and dangerous half brother. He has been a good contributor to the thrills in the sequels, I have to admit. The film goes on to reveal more about Lisbeth’s upbringing, the evil people in her life, and government conspiracies.
Overall, this film presents a satisfying closure to the series despite the uneven pacing, and the now predictable nature of court room dramas. Ultimately it has been the characters that has made this series watchable despite the lessening of the quality in the sequels. Those who have already seen the first two would do well to catch this one.
My Rating: ** 1/2 out of ****