The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is the final film in the late journalist/ author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. With Hollywood already working on its own adaptations, there is little doubt that this series has had an impact. Despite this, it remains to be seen how these Swedish versions will stand the test of time.
The plot picks up immediately after where the second film left off. The uninitiated will struggle to figure out what’s going on as Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) investigate the conspiracy that allowed Salander to be locked away and abused for years. It soon becomes apparent that the schemes reach as high as the government. The loyal Millennium magazine staff is under threat and attempts are made on both Salander and Blomkvist’s lives. On top of this, Salander is being tried for attempted murder and Blomkvist has to help clear her name. Meanwhile, Salander’s half-brother Niedermann (Micke Spreitz) rampages across Sweden in search of revenge.
Those who aren’t fond of these films will not be swayed by this two and a half hour closer, while ardent fans will get more of what they loved in the first two. Otherwise, it’s just a reasonably diverting thriller with a lot of convoluted plotting to keep things moving. One restaurant shoot-out has a build-up that is as suspenseful as any above-average recent thriller and with a well-shot action sequence to follow. This film, like the series in general, is entertaining but not anything particularly special.
The best feature of this film remains the visuals. The big budget is clearly on display, creating a distinctly Hollywood feel. The visuals go beyond mere mimicry, however, effortlessly conveying a corrupt and dangerous society. This has always been the strong suit of this series, even if things always comfortably wrap up by the film’s end. The happy endings always seem out of place in such a predatory and unsympathetic landscape. Unfortunately, the film’s inability to sustain a dark and foreboding tone means that it will take itself deadly seriously when you cannot.
Unintentional comedy has both plagued and saved this thriller series. On one hand it ruins the mood but on the other, it keeps it entertaining. Ultimately, these films are guilty pleasures rather than great thrillers. They require so little emotional investment that they will never rise above the level of an entertaining potboiler. In the end, these films are good while they are on, but entirely disposable when they are gone.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is for fans of this series. It is good, but it is doubtful whether it will be remembered for long, or if it will make any of the critics’ forthcoming Top 10 of 2010 lists. But for those waiting with bated breath for the Hollywood versions (directed by David Fincher, now due a bad film after the great The Social Network): why bother? The Swedish ones are as good as this kind of thing gets.