November 7, 2010

Movie Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

girl_who_kicked_hornets_nestThe third film based on Stieg Larsson's trilogy of novels has arrived in US theaters just as the second episode, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is hitting home video. Having seen and loved the first two, I was really looking forward to this final outing. Despite this turning into a case of diminishing returns, that does not make it any less involving than either of the first two. This is also the first time in memory where I have seen three films in the same series in theaters for the first time in a single year, it is quite the condensed experience. It is also an experience I recommend you try. At the very least, see the films prior to the release of the American adaptation of the first one hits (a film I am cautiously optimistic about).

This third film is less action than the first two and feels a little bit more like the TV mini-series it was originally intended to be. It is more talky than the first two, which is not a terrible detriment. While those things would seem to make this sound less than inviting, let me dis-spell that notion right up front. This movie is still involving and captivating, just in a different way.


The first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is the most self contained of the series, serving to introduce is to Mikael Blomquist (Michael Nykvist) and Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and present a compelling story that hints at something bigger. The second film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, dives further into Lisbeth's story in a visceral fashion that displays it on both an epic and personal scale. This third film acts as the third act of a play where everything comes to a head leading to a resolution. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest works perfectly in that regard.

We pick the story up immediately after the events of the second film. Lisbeth has been taken to the hospital with a bullet in her head and a large number of other wounds suffered at the hands of Niedermann and her father, Zalachenko. Now as soon as she is sufficiently healed she will be put on trial for the attempted murder of her father. Blomqvist sets out to use his position at Millennium magazine to write an expose on "The Section," a secret sect of the Swedish government that has been protecting Zalachenko for some thirty-years, not to mention any other number if illegal activities.

You see, Lisbeth is seen as a threat who could prove to be the undoing of all they have done. Their goal is to have her remanded to psychiatric care where no one would believe anything she would have to say. They plan on railroading her through the court process and locked away with a doctor on their payroll. It would seem simple enough considering the pent up anger and distrust that has been bred into Lisbeth over the years. Something tells me it is a little more complicated than that.


I know that I will need to rewatch the films to completely get where all the pieces fit and I am sure that will be a rewarding experience. What makes these films work so well for me are the central characters of Blomkvist and Lisbeth, plus their relationship. Even simpler than that, Lisbeth Salander is an amazing character and Noomi Rapace's performance is just absolutely incredible.

There is something about Lisbeth Salander's silence, about the disdain she has for pretty much everyone, her determination in her goals even if no one knows quite what they are. She is a force of nature on the screen, someone to be reckoned with and not someone to necessarily be understood. She is utterly captivating and that is in no small part due to Noomi Rapace. Her performance is electric, utterly intense and just a great thing for the screen. The character is all nuance, a lot is done with her face and reactions, this is a girl who has been subjected to terrible things, battered and beaten to where she cannot trust anyone else. Just watch her interactions with Blomqvist, she never asks for help and can barely even acknowledge it. On the other side Blomqvist sees the damage and wants to help. It is more than his journalistic desire, he goes above and beyond to help putting himself at risk but never acting like your typical cinematic hero. It is wonderfully complex and offers a lot to go back to and experience.

Yes, this is my least favorite of the three, but it is still an exceptional film and a great finish for the trilogy. It is paced well, written well, and is completely involving. It makes me want to go back to the start and watch them all over again. If you like thrillers, if you like character, if your don't mind subtitles (these are Swedish films after all), you are going to want to check this (these) out.

Highly Recommended.

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