The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – movie review


The Swedish adaptation of the third and final installment in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a fitting end to the saga, though it is also the slowest of the three films.

If you’re interested in this film, odds are you’ve either seen the first two movies or read the books, so you’ll know the movie opens with Lisbeth completely vulnerable, confined to a hospital as she recovers from gunshot wounds, and set to stand trial as soon as she recovers. Meanwhile government forces are plotting to cover up their involvement with Zalachenko, which requires silencing Lisebth by any means necessary.

Noomi Rapace is the heart and soul of this trilogy, and she once again provides a riveting performance – it’s just unfortunate that the plot largely confines her to a hospital bed or a court room. Watching Lisbeth investigate in her own particular way has been the highlight of this trilogy, and with her mostly sidelined from the investigation, the movie looses some of the spark of the first two films.

It’s still fun to watch Mikael Blomkvist pound the pavement, but he treads familiar waters in this story – a journalist out to expose a government cover up is hardly new. And though Mikael Nyqvist once again does a wonderful job with Blomkivst, making him savvy, stubborn, and sometimes a downright prick in the name of his righteous cause, he just can’t overcome the fact that the nature of this investigation is less riveting that the investigations of the previous films. Instead of grand revelations or starting discoveries, Blomkvist is largely out to find proof of what he already knows, and to identify the people in government ultimately responsible. With Lisbeth’s life hanging in the balance, you won’t have any trouble staying interested, it’s just not as taut and thrilling as catching a serial killer or unraveling why Lisbeth was framed and how it tied into her past.

Still, there is a nice sense of blood in the water and sharks circling in, with Ronald Niedermann, the blonde giant, determined to seek revenge, and Dr. Peter Teleborian ready and eager to have Lisbeth back under his control. Blomkvist also finds himself a target, with Millennium on the receiving end of escalating threats and pressure coming from all sides, friend and foe, to make him back off.

There are also fascinating glimpses of Lisbeth’s emotional growth, and by that I mean how she is forced to let others help her for the first time. Lisbeth has had every reason to trust no one, and now she has to sit back and let Blomkvist, Plague, her old boss, and her lawyer fight for her. For someone so distrustful and self sufficient, this is a huge leap of faith and Rapace does a wonderful job showing us the cracks in Lisbeth’s armor, fleeting moments of confusion and bewilderment that people really are on her side.

However, Lisbeth is still full of fight – there’s a wonderful scene where Lisbeth is preparing for court by creating the Mohawk you see her sporting in the poster above, her way of donning her armor, telling the world to piss off, doing it her way even though she’s completely at the mercy of the system. Lisbeth shows her courage in different ways in this film, both by trusting others and by telling her story (something she has never done), and revealing the abuses she’s endured. There is something horribly invasive about a woman having to detail her own sexual assault, and Lisbeth faces it down without a blink. Also Lisbeth’s lawyer, who happens to be Blomkvist’s sister (played by Annika Hallin) is a wonderful counterpoint to Lisbeth’s taciturn silences, and watching them play off each other is one of the best parts of the film.

Still, while the plot moves forward ponderously, it can’t help but hold your interest and there are several wonderful moments when people so richly get what they deserve. And the best sequences in this film come at the end, when Lisbeth is finally taken off the leash and allowed to take the lead once more. There is a brief but fantastically taut action sequence, and the movie is rounded off by one final, wonderfully awkward scene between Lisbeth and Blomkvist, that will make you wish they could have been together onscreen the whole movie.

The ending is satisfying enough, though there is still so much potential that could have been explored – and knowing Larsson planned for his Millennium series to span ten books, I can’t help but feel the sting of knowing how much more these characters were meant to do together. What a fantastic odd pair they make, and I was sad to see it end.

So I did enjoy this movie, despite it being slow at at times, and once again I just feel bad for the American adaptation because it has a very steep hill to climb in matching these films. I honestly can’t picture anyone but Noomi Rapace in the role, because she owns it.

This may have been my least favorite movie of the three, but it is still a very solid film and a thoroughly fitting end to this massively popular trilogy.