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Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
by Martin Malloy on Oct 28, 2010
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, is back for the final chapter in the Millennium Trilogy. Created by Steig Larsson, the books and, subsequently films, follow events surrounding the elusive Salander that slowly manifest government corruption.
Whereas the first film kicked off the introduction of our mysterious heroine, the second introduced the conspiracy surrounding her past and present. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest continues directly where the previous film left off, superbly wrapping up a series that has captivated the globe.
The film brashly opens with Salander (Noomi Rapace) en route to the hospital after being brutally beaten by Zalachenko and Niedermann, aka Dad and Brother. It turns out Zalachenko is directly, and indirectly, to blame for her continued abuse as he was used by the Swedish government for Russian secrets, thus granting him total immunity despite being completely evil. Literally buried alive, then rising from the grave, Salander wounds Zalachenko but Neidermann is on the run. Yet, Neidermann is small bones compared to the murder charges Salander is still convicted of from The Girl who Plays with Fire.
As she recovers and awaits trial, Blomvkist (Michael Nyqvist) is preparing a special edition of his magazine, Millennium, to expose those who have abused and falsely accused Salander, and who are hoping to put her back into an institution. While Blomkvist prepares his public defense of Lisbeth and exposition of the corrupt, his enemies are also preparing their attack.
We see these men who are completely devoid of any humanity or morality and are only concerned with keeping their secrets hidden at any cost. So, to keep the story of Zalachenko from seeing the light of day they must prove Salander is mentally unstable and also put a stop to Blomvkist’s publication. The film is a race for time and truth while Salander, the key to both sides, remains silent and unwilling to trust those around her. And for good reason.
Her silence is only detrimental to herself as she is needed to corroborate what Blomkvist is claiming. Yet after a lifetime of abuse, lies, and silence from those supposed to protect, she has distrust for just about everyone. Thus, it becomes a film where those attempting to prove her mental instability aren’t necessarily incorrect but it’s because of them that she displays such symptoms, like paranoia. While she is the center of the action, it is the players around her that push the story forward as she remains the calm of the impending storm.
Directed by Daniel Alfredson, who also directed The Girl who Plays with Fire, the film does lack some sizzle the first one had, which was directed by Niels Arden Opev. Whether that’s owing to the shared story of the final two or the direction of Opev versus Alfredson is debatable, but while the final two are very well made thrillers that do Salander and Blomvkist justice, they just don’t live up to Opev’s introduction to the series.
Still it’s Nyqvist as Blomvkist and Rapace as Salander that are the treasures of these films. The two are expertly cast and stay true to their characters throughout all three films. Blomvkist looks like normal guy, not a suave Hollywood actor or a hardened detective, yet it’s through his ingenuity, compassion and abilities as an amateur sleuth that shed light on a thirty years plus corruption. And it’s Rapace’s silent but brooding Salander that keeps the mystery alive even as Blomkvist puts the pieces together. She’s simply a knockout in the role.
Ultimately, the Alfredson films, this one included, just aren’t as masterful as Opev’s first. Still, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a fantastic film that holds on to the momentum created by the first two. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen as Salander and Blomkvist set out to prove her innocence against dirty, evil-minded men. It’s a story that proves never to judge a book by its cover. Many assume Salander’s guilt based solely on her tattoos, multiple piercings and Goth get-up. Yet, it’s those that we supposedly trust to keep us safe who infringe on our safety and human rights, all in the name of appearances.
by Martin Malloy on Oct 28, 2010