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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, 2010
Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Jacob Ericksson, Sofia Ledarp, Anders Ahlbom, Micke Spreitz, Georgi Staykov, Mirja Turestedt, Niklas Falk, Hans Alfredson
After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close supervision in a hospital and is set to face trial for attempted murder on her eventual release. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must prove her innocence. In doing this she plays against powerful enemies and her own past.
Release Date: 27 November 2009 (Denmark)
After many hours of Swedish politics, finance and substitles we finally reach the end of Steig Larsson's series of idiosyncratic crime novels.
Following the cliffhanger ending of the previous film, "The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" opens with its main character, Lisbeth Salander's (Noomi Rapace) eyes, as she recovers from surgery after being shot in the head and left for dead. But though she may have survived her first encounter with her deranged half-brother (Micke Spreitz) she's not out of the woods yet as the entire weight of the secret police force known as The Section is about to land on her. Now her only chance to stay out of a mental ward forever is outlaw journalist Mikael (Michael Nyqvist), assuming he can stay alive long enough to prove her innocence.
That's a nifty duskjacket paragraph right there. Unfortunately Daniel Aflredson's adaptation of Larsson's final Salandar novel is about as dry as a duskjacket description and often about as informative.
A lot of that is just the nature of the beast. Whereas the first film was solidly about its Larsson stand-in before being gradually taken over by its best and most famous character, hacker Lisbeth Salandar, it still managed to be both self-contained and to tie its main characters together with strong thematic chains about the nature of society's that have so little problem allowing systemized violence against women.
The second two films, under the helm of a new director, suffer from a great deal of sequalitis. The focus of the films has been transferred to its more interesting major protoganist, digging into the holes of her past and bringing her background to light. Which requires some real stretching to get her cohorts from the first film, especially Mikael, into play.
It's even more obvious in "Hornet's Nest" of which roughly two hours of its two hour and twenty minute running time is devoted to wrap up of the various story lines that have built up over the previous two films. Very, very slow wrap up, much of which develops through the course of Lisbeth's trial.
That said, a lot of what was good about the other films in the series is still good here. Lisbeth is undeniably a great character and each moment she is on screen as she comes back to life and begins fighting for her freedom are excellent. Larsson's favorite themes about violence against, and the strength of, women are on prime display as well. They're especially well personified in the sight of Lisbeth and her extremely pregnant defense attorney (Annika Hallin) coldly staring down Lisbeth's misogynist psychologist (Anders Ahlbom) and by extension the male oligarchy that incarcerated her in the first place.
The tension during Mikael's search for the proof that will free Lisbeth is also often well played, especially once The Section begins to target his co-workers. However, by showing all of the moves both sides are playing it soon becomes painfully obvious one side is about to be obliterated and the best the filmmakers can come up with in place of drama and conflict is righteous satisfaction.
Which wouldn't be so bad if the end weren't so awkward and abrupt. A long running sub-plot about Lisbeth's brother is left until literally the final moments and has little to do with the rest of the film.
What we end up with is a well-done episode of a TV crime procedural, but considering the strength of the first film in the series, "Hornet's Nest" can't help but feel badly weak in comparison.
It's too bad there won't be any more of those, at least until David Fincher's adaptation of "Dragon Tattoo" comes long, but for Lisbeth Salandar fans even a tepid good-bye is worth the price of admission.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest