REVIEW: Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Features White Swedish Guys Talking, A Lot
It's often a sad day when a movie series -- the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the nearly completed Harry Potter saga -- comes to an end. And I know there are some who will shed a tear in the closing moments of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third and final installment in the Swedish-made series based on the novels of the late Stieg Larsson. But as the end credits of this last dour Swedish snooze-a-thon started rolling, I clapped my notebook shut as if it were the last day of school. Huzzah! Bring on David Fincher. Please.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, directed by Daniel Alfredson and adapted by Jonas Frykberg and Ulf Rydberg, is far less unpleasant than the first picture in the series, Niels Arden Oplev's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: There's none of that graphic, prolonged, grayish-toned allegedly "good for you, because it's European" violence. And because our heroine, the mini-mite goth-punk hacker Lisbeth Salander (once again played by mystical moonflower Noomi Rapace), spends much of the movie in a hospital bed, she isn't as frequently kicked and punched in the stomach (and elsewhere) as she was in part two of the saga, The Girl Who Played with Fire (also directed by Alfredson). The "men are scum, women are awesome" subcurrent of the first two movies is slightly less pronounced in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which is a good thing: We already know about Lisbeth's history of abuse, and I'm sure we're all in agreement that she did the right thing by torching dear, old abusive dad. Still, Hornet's Nest is filled with boring, not-great-looking white guys, talking -- a lot. For evil conspirators going to great lengths to cover up years' worth of horrific secret deeds, they sure don't know when to shut up.
Hornet's Nest picks up right where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off: Lisbeth lies in a hospital bed, after surviving one of those aforementioned brutal beatings, as well as being buried alive. Pops Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), the guy she tried to kill -- again -- at the end of the last movie, lies in a bed a few doors down, just because it's supercozy to have everyone in the same hospital. The journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who is of course all moony-eyed over Lisbeth (and who is also, in the series' eyes, the Last Nice Guy on Earth), persuades his extremely pregnant lawyer-sister, Erika (Annika Hallin), to take on her case. Meanwhile, an alleged "lone crazy" breaks into the hospital and, after killing Zalachenko, heads straight for Lisbeth's room. He fails in his mission and then kills himself. The incident is waved off with a shrug, but Lisbeth is still on the hook for having attempted to kill Zalachenko; in addition, she's being held accountable for every death that has occurred in Sweden, ever, because these guys who are after her are really powerful and have much to hide. Why take chances?
The story moves forward with the speed and agility of a club-footed giant. Compared with its predecessors, I'd say Hornet's Nest is far more boring than the first movie (which at least had novelty in its favor) and quite a bit more boring, even, than the sufficiently boring The Girl Who Played with Fire. On the plus side, its dumb-ass plot devices are perhaps slightly less dumb than those in the last picture. (Remember that top intelligence operative who was lured into a journalist's trap by the promise of a free cell phone? Does the guy also save up box-tops in the hopes of collecting enough to get a decoder ring?)
If you don't want to hear about the one or two truly exciting moments of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, please stop reading now. My favorite bit is the part where Lisbeth efficiently vanquishes her half-brother, the Lurch-like Cyborg-type Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), who can feel no pain. In fact, for me, being able to watch Rapace's Lisbeth is the only thing that has made this series bearable: I'm going to miss those wary, dagger-shooting eyes, that little half-smile that could also substitute for an accusation. I've heard rumors that although The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is Larsson's last published book, it's possible that there's an unfinished manuscript lying in wait somewhere. That may account for the movie's deeply unsatisfying ending, in which -- and again, if you want to be surprised, please stop reading now -- Lisbeth and Mikael have a final encounter that amounts to little more than a grunt and a "Nice knowing you." That's the way The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest ends, not with a bang but a shrug.