Author: DeLapp, Bill
Date published: November 10, 2010
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. (Music Box; 146 minutes; R; 2010). The last time art-house moviegoers saw the punk-dressed kickboxing enigma known as Lisbeth Salander (played again by Noomi Rapace)-the titular heroine of the previous installments in this Swedish trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire-she was about as near dead as you can get, both physically (she received a bullet in the head) and emotionally (she learned some more unsavory secrets from her family tree).
As this climactic entry opens, Lisbeth is recuperating in a hospital and is as vulnerable as a weak kitten, plus she's up on attempted murder charges. Meanwhile, various factions in the Swedish government are determined to shut her up because she knows too much about their corrupt dealings, which have often led to murder, abuse and other forms of mayhem. One crooked psychiatrist, Peter Telebortian (Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl), hopes to declare Lisbeth mentally incompetent so he can commit her for life. But she has already spilled her many secrets to investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), and his muckraking magazine Millennium intends to publish these shocking tidbits that could exonerate Lisbeth-but as the last two movies have proven, staying alive in the dangerous world created by the late novelist Stieg Larsson can be a tricky endeavor.
Final installments of movie franchises, as well as episodic TV series, often feel like overloaded affairs, with numerous characters vying for sufficient screen time in order to tie up a platoon of loose ends. Viewers of Hornet's Nest may feel that a scorecard is necessary to make sense of all the villains darting in and out of the proceedings, while a new plot wrinkle involving Nyqvist's alliance with a Swedish government branch of internal affairs doesn't seem fully realized. Still, Ulf Rydberg's streamlined adaptation of the Larsson book manages to suggest that just about all the bad apples in this trilogy are creepy, old, rich white guys with power-mad delusions, and lord knows there are plenty of those types still running the world.
Despite the many verbose sequences of plot exposition, there is rarely a dull moment in director Daniel Alfredson's lengthy yet absorbing flick, which features a hospital gundown, a restaurant shootout and some tense courtroom moments. The big handicap, alas, is that the central twosome have so few scenes together, and you can bet that the inevitable American remake (with director David Fincher guiding Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara) will try to fix that drawback.
Nevertheless, Noomi Rapace continues to elicit a surprising amount of empathy for her traumatized Lisbeth, even when her character resorts to wearing full-goth spiky regalia during the film's final third, while Michael Nyqvist is her polar opposite as the rumpled, sad-eyed newshound. Supporting characters from the other Larsson movies come to the fore here, notably Annika Hallin as Mikael's legal-eagle sister. And Micke Spreitz is back as Niedermann, the type of menacing blond killer traditionally found in a James Bond yarn. Indeed, the bizarre ways in which key villains get their just deserts gives The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest its offbeat sense of satisfying closure.