Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

By Michael T. Dennis

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest” brings a satisfying close to the film version of Stieg Larsson's celebrated “Millennium Trilogy” that began with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and continued in “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” This final entry is a first-class thriller and avoids many of the problems that plagued the middle film.
The film picks up moments after “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” meaning that viewers not familiar with the first two films should find a way to see them before moving on to “Hornet's Nest.” The title character, Lisbeth Salander, is on a medical helicopter that rushes her to a hospital where doctors remove a bullet lodged near her brain.
It's an intense opening to a movie that never really lets up, despite a dense plot and lots of quiet moments. Lisbeth recovers slowly as members of a secretive organization plot her demise and ghosts from her past conspire to destroy her in court, where she faces attempted murder charges and accusations of mental instability.
Lisbeth is also a subject of plans by journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who lays out her legal defense and works to find out who's behind the mysterious events of the previous film. After spending time together as comrades in action, Mikael and Lisbeth are seldom on-screen together in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,” communicating instead via e-mail, text messages, and mutual acquaintances.
Keeping the main characters apart sets up the story's close, posing questions about the nature of their relationship that have lingered since they first met, under very unusual circumstances, in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Mikael and Lisbeth have been friends, enemies, lovers, and saviors to one another, but their final meeting sums up the relationship wonderfully, in all its complexity.
But before they can have this meeting, Mikael and Lisbeth must each endure their own emotionally and physically grueling ordeal. Lisbeth leaver her hospital room for a jail cell once she's deemed well enough to stand trial. Besides facing her past, she also has to learn how to ask for help and receive it gracefully from her lawyer, Mikael's sister Annika.
In court Lisbeth faces Dr. Teleborian, the corrupt psychologist who abused her as a child and now testifies in an attempt guarantee her silence by having her locked away in an asylum. Meanwhile, from the outside world, her half-brother Ronald Niedermann stalks her, following her movements on the TV news and leaving a trail of death everywhere he goes.
Back at Millennium headquarters, Mikael gathers his staff to assemble a special issue that will examine the false case against Lisbeth and seek to expose the network of international espionage and government corruption that ties everything together. It's a nice reversal of the first film, which had Lisbeth doing the research that would get revenge for Mikael and renew his credibility.
Whereas Lisbeth worked in secret, Mikael and his staff take on the task in the open, and suffer death threats for their efforts. This serves to raise the issue of a journalist's duty, and how much is too much to risk in the search for truth. Ultimately Mikael is more than just a good journalist, he's also a virtuous man, taking on the same risks for Lisbeth's sake that she did for his in the past.
Mikael's search takes him deep into the world of latent Cold War fears and political corruption, subjects that have provided the base for many fine thrillers. “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest” is clearly among them, moody and tense with a constant drive toward an ending that's impossible to predict.
At just under two-and-a-half hours, director Daniel Alfredson atones for the unevenness of “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and sustains the film's length by eliminating many scenes and details from the 600-page novel, but holding onto the right ones. This recalls Niels Arden Oplev's direction of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which received deserved high praise.
With an American remake on the way, audiences have a limited time to find the Millennium Trilogy of films and watch them on their own terms. It's impossible to imagine the forthcoming films, under the direction of David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, and relative newcomer Rooney Mara in the title role, as being much like the Swedish originals.
There's a cold realism that Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace, stars in their native Sweden, bring to the trilogy that few English-speaking performers have ever captured on-screen. The new films may succeed after all, especially if Fincher has found a suitable Lisbeth in Rooney Mara, with whom he worked in the recent success story “The Social Network.” But for now, viewers can enjoy Stieg Larsson's novels transformed into faithful and absorbing cinema.
Mikael Blomkvist—Michael Nyqvist
Lisbeth Salander—Noomi Rapace
Erika Berger—Lena Endre
Annika Giannini—Annika Hallin
Christer Malm—Jacob Ericksson
Malin Erikson—Sofia Ledarp
De. Peter Teleborian—Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl
Ronald Niedermann—Mikael Spreitz
Alexander Zalachenko—Georgi Staykov
Nordisk Film, Sveriges Television, Yellow Bird Films, and ZDF Enterprises
Distributed by Music Box Films
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Written by Jonas Frykberg, Stieg Larsson, and Ulf Ryberg
Producers, Klaus Bassiner, Susann Billberg-Rydholm, Gunnar Carllson, Anni Faurbye Fernandez, Wolfgang Reindt, Jenny Gilbertsson, Lone Korslund, Jon Mankell, Peter Nadermann, Ole Søndberg, Søren Stærmose, Mikael Wallen
Original Music, Jacob Groth
Cinematographer, Peter Mokrosinski
Editor, Håkan Karlsson
Casting, Tusse Lande
Art Directors, Jan Olof Ågren and Maria Håård