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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Daniel Alfredson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest shares many of the same flaws as the Millenium trilogy’s previous installment and then some, leading to a dull thud of a conclusion.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has little else on its mind except tying up loose ends and concluding a long gestating conspiracy story being spearheaded by some of the most inept shadowy government agents I have ever seen.  Whatever suspense or danger that might have pervaded previous installments is completely lacking here as Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) recovers from her injuries from the end of the first film and is on trial for her attempted murder of her father.

The plot mechanics of the film befuddle me but much of that is most likely a lacking in understand of the Swedish judicial system.  In either case, the story is dull and lacks any kind of suspense whatsoever.  In fact, taking this film and the previous one put together, one could say this would be the trial portion of a Swedish “Law and Order” remake.  After the events of the second film, Salander is recuperating while also being held under guard, charged for the attempted murder of her father who, for some reason or another (again, going to have to ask the Swedes on this one), is recuperating at the same hospital.  Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) takes it upon himself to use his magazine to publicly defend Salander and reveal all the dirty, corrupt practices of shady old white men who have kept her imprisoned and incapacitated for her entire adult life.

This film is all about concluding the Salander story and all of its salacious details.  Not that but all that have done her wrong get their just comeuppance.  If there’s anything that Stieg Larsson’s series loves more than the subject matter of violence towards women, it’s the brutal vengeance and justice towards the men that do.  Seemingly extraneous plot details from way back in the first film, are brought to bear and finally given context and relevance.  Alfredson refuses to cater to Johnny-come-lately’s, jumping in head first in the complicated scheme of things.

Apparently, a large government conspiracy has been behind all of Salander’s troubles through her life and Blomkvist spends the film investigating and exposing the corruption at play here.  Some of this might have garnered some interest if any of those complex moving parts worked as they should.  But, at every turn, our heroes have the upper hand and the conspiratorial shadow players rarely make a move that isn’t completely asinine or, as the viewer has already seen through our protagonists’ actions, completely meaningless in its actions.  Even an attempted assassination attempt on Blomkvist’s life does little in the way of deterring the investigation or really causing anyone harm.  What could have been primed for a very startling, important death is rather treated as another poorly shot and choreographed fight scene.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its strengths, however minor.  Rapace continues to do amazing work in her performance as Lisbeth Salander.  Now three films deep into her performance, Rapace finds new and interesting dimensions to the character, rising above her initial social stigmas and providing a depth to the character that could easily be overlooked by punk aesthetic.  The film also provides more depth and characterization for some of the supporting players.  Lena Endre as Erika Berger, Blomkvist’s longtime lover and co-publisher, has been given little to nothing to do for two previous films but is finally provided with something to do.  Endre’s performance and fearful eyes almost give the audience a sense that their lives may actually be in danger.  The rest of the film tends not to bear that out.

Larsson’s Millenium trilogy can’t help but feel just a bit disjointed taken as a whole.  The first film feels almost completely irrelevant to the events that take place in the two succeeding films.  Sure, the introduction of the Salander character and her background and troubles are introduced and later resolved three films later but it never really feels like seeds of an ongoing plot but rather a coincidental re-visiting of prior plot points that the viewer may or may not have forgotten.  The second and third film, however, are certainly one of a piece in that the third feels very much like a protracted epilogue for the previous film.  Hornet’s Nest concludes storylines without ever bringing anything new or interesting back up again.  Where much of the suspense and tension of the second film came from keeping the central relationship of Salander and Blomkvist separate, this film continues in that vein for no real purpose.  There is no plot or story device that made keeping these two characters, their relationship seeming so vital in the first film, apart for the entire length of the film.  Their reconnection towards the end of the film rings false because their continued separation never made much sense to begin with.  While Rapace continues to be extraordinary in the part of Lisbeth Salander, the rest of the moving parts around her continue to churn out sub-standard CBS procedural pabulum and the film makes the even bigger mistake of robbing the series of one of its greater strengths, the paring of Blomkvist and Salander.

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