The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Noomi Rapace's good work is reduced by the script.

The inexplicably overhyped, overrated and overbaked Milennium trilogy finally trundles to an agonisingly distended close in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the dullest and clumsiest entry into an already incredibly mild series of thriller films, which have to this point tiptoed perilously between pretentious self-effacing seriousness and self-aware hokum. This third installment lacks the visually impressive direction of the first film (helmed by Niels Arden Oplev before Daniel Alfredson took over for parts two and three), nor submits enough to the silly pulpiness of the second; it is an ugly ball of hot air, strewn with countless foibles of basic narrative storytelling.

Continuing literally seconds after The Girl Who Played with Fire concluded, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is hospitalised following the brutal standoff against her father. Dragged before the court, Lisbeth is accused of the attempted murder of her father, as the brutish Neidermann (Micke Spreitz) attempts to evade the authorities and finish her off at the behest of numerous shady old men. Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) does all within his investigative power to help Lisbeth from behind the scenes, though soon enough all of the Milennium reporters become targetted for their efforts.

Hornet’s Nest makes two errors of such horrendously ill-advised judgement that it is little surprise that the film as a whole has the verve and dramatic appeal of a dead dog. Firstly, don’t have your protagonist confined to a hospital bed for the vast majority of the film; it’s like watching an episode of 24 only to find that Jack Bauer has gone for a nap, and instead, we’re going to have to observe the dull machinations of the drably styled office drones for a whole episode. Secondly, don’t have your protagonists – who appear in all the advertising together – be separated for the overwhelming majority of the film. Rapace and Nyqvist’s chemistry was evident in intermittent bursts from the first film, but in the combined four-and-a-half-hour-plus running time of the last two, they share approximately five inert, tacked-on minutes together. Though fans of Larsson’s may vehemently protest this complaint on the grounds that it happened that way in the novel, it doesn’t exactly make for the most compelling of films in the aspects of both drama and character.

Again, much like the previous films, there’s little here – the subversively leathery lead femme aside – that hasn’t been done to death by several-dozen seasons of CSI; the result is another helping of by-the-book, warmed up leftovers, reinforcing the idea that this is a story developed by people who are simply not brave enough to admit that they’re making nothing more than pulpy trash. The reporter characters pore over dusty files and saucy documents which more often than not mysteriously vanish, while Lisbeth dabbles in some easy-as-pie computer hacking wizzardry, and the resulting question is raised; how, exactly, is this more worth your time than the lazy constructions of the aforementioned TV show?

It’ll be on the strength of the performances at a stretch, because the direction this time is atrocious; Alfredon lacks the visual flair of his predecessor, a concession acceptable in the second film because it was such a willingly daft, even campy affair. This time, in leaden self-seriousness, his tedious effort is less tolerable, only adding to the murkiness of the narrative; there are no iconic images to support the iconic lead character, and Alfredson seems to have come to believe that a long, lingering shot of just about anything equates to creating a brooding atmosphere.

The final showdown itself, taking place in a dark, dilapidated warehouse, is at least more in tune with the caperly stupidity of the second film, but as the film’s single flash of card-carrying pulp, it comes across as eschewed, even unintentional in its execution. Still, it provides what is one of the film’s two momentary laughs, the other being an episode in which Lisbeth enters the courtroom kitted out in full-on kinky leather garb and spiked hair.

A staggeringly bad effort in a series that has already had its esteem blown massively out of proportion, this is one dud not worth your time despite the best efforts of the two leads, and it’s doubtful to even satisfy the curiosities of fans of the previous films or novels. The most disturbing conundrum, however, is how even a director as talented as David Fincher is going to remake these works into anything resembling the quality of his oeuvre to date.


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