The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

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Laura Clifford 
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Robin Clifford 

Although her father Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) and her half brother Ronald Niedermann (Mikael Spreitz) tried to kill her, even burying her, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) survived and came back fighting.  Now in intensive care in a Swedish City Hospital, Lisbeth writes her autobiography with the aid of a hand held device snuck in by Dr. Jonasson (Askel Morisse) at the behest of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). Lisbeth is still wanted for three murders and Blomkvist, in trying to prove her innocence, will uncover an arm of the Swedish government so secret, only they know of their own illegal existence in "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."

Laura:
If director Niels Arden Oplev's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was a decent enough thriller, with the seamier aspects of the novel taking precedence over character development, the two sequels, directed by Daniel Alfredson ("The Girl Who Played with Fire"), have shown decreasingly diminishing returns.  Granted, the second and third books by Stieg Larsson delved more into Salander's mysterious background where the first had a serial killer mystery to drive it, but Alfredson's capper seems like a teleplay, all talk and extreme closeups with exactly three action scenes in 148 minutes.  Noomi Rapace does nothing but look remote, at least until a vaguely satisfying last scene.  She's a pretty lifeless lead here.  The film's biggest asset is the new character of Jonasson who leavens the proceedings with a much needed dash of humanity and humor.

Larsson might have been able to spin a complex tale with intriguingly flawed heroes, but he wasn't a very good writer.  His third book has so many characters and so many conspiracy threads, it would be impossible to comprehend as a standalone book.  That said, the book is more involving than the film derived from it because all the words, words, words employed are better suited to the page.  After a brief revisit to the ending of the second film, "The Girl Who Played with Fire," we're treated to Lisbeth's brain surgery, then closeups of her battered face swathed in bandages as she listens to the pitch of Blomkvist's sister Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin) on her defense.  Things liven up for a bit when an old man, seemingly a hospital visitor, slips in and attempts to assassinate Salander.  Annika's quick thinking saves the day and gains Lisbeth's trust.  He dies of a heart attack outside her room and provides Blomkvist with a lead.

Jonas Frykberg's ("The Girl Who Played with Fire") adaptation spins most of Larsson's subplots, although some are relegated to the background and others, like Blomkvist's romance with a policewoman and Lisbeth's entire post-trial time in Gibraltar, excised entirely.  There are even some that are introduced and left to dangle, like the threats Erika Berger (Lena Endre) copes with (Berger's move to editor in chief of a Stockholm newspaper doesn't happen in the film, so the threats are not coming from the same place and Larrson's anticorporate message gets lost in the shuffle).  We have the internal turmoil with the group responsible for protecting Salander's dad at her expense, which has its own spinoff in evil psychiatrist Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl) and his conniving with the trial's prosecution. There are the cops working in parallel with Blomkvist, whose long standing relationship with Berger is given a bit more shrift than in the previous films.  Occasionally, we see Niedermann with the hostage he's taken to escape and just when we've about forgotten about his existence, he comes back in the film's best staged scene. Alfredson fumbles, though, with a cafe shootout that fails to muster half of the danger Larrson's words did.

Dramatically, the trial at the heart of this trilogy capper gets most of its oomph from Salander's rebellious stance in both dress (she takes her Goth look to the nth, playing a part as it were) and attitude (deadpan linguistic sparring with her prosecutor).  In one of their only two scenes together, Nyqvist exhibits more acting skill in his reaction to Lisbeth's appearance than Rapace does throughout the entire film.  She may be hamstrung by her character's predicament here, but there is so little life to Lisbeth, we're unduly grateful for a hidden half smile.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" may seem like necessary viewing for those who've followed this film series, but its more like doing homework than enjoying a good read.

C

Robin:
In the third and last installment of the popular Stieg Larsson “Millennium” trilogy, Lisbeth Salander in hospitalized with a bullet in her head. Once recovered, she will face trial for the attempted murder of her estranged father and journalist Michael Blomkvist musters the resources of his magazine to prove her innocence in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

I like the sub-story the film provides about corruption and cover-up which has some exciting moments. Unfortunately, when Lisbeth Salander, the main character in “The Girl…,” shows up on camera, things general slow to a crawl. Lisbeth is supposed to a taciturn person but here she is a blank cipher after getting a bullet in the head. Most of the film is spent on Lisbeth’s recovery. Only when she gets her day in court, all punked out, does Rapace show any emotion. The Michael Blomkvist character is secondary through all of “The Girl Who….”

The series has been a diminishing of returns, with the first the best and the last not so good. It is telling that I was more interested in the background machinations of greed and corruption than in seeing Salander exonerated. There is one character that I grew “fond” of – Niederman (Micke Spreitz), a huge hit man killer who leaves a wake of bodies as he hunts Lisbeth and is one of the best psycho bad guys I have seen in a movie in quite some time. That damned Niederman!

At two-and-a-half hours, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is far too long, too slow and only sporadically exciting. R.I.P. Stieg Larsson but I have had enough of your “Girl.” I give it a B-.
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