The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
27Jan/110

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (2010)

ANDREW LIKEWhat we have here is the rare example of a third film in a trilogy that actually surpasses the other two.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is a very entertaining and interesting thriller that works in ways that the other two didn't.  It is a bit more conventional but builds on the same powerful characterization that kept me watching the sometimes interesting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the consistently boring The Girl Who Played with Fire to excellent effect.

TGWKtHN (to make things easier) picks up right where the second film left off.  Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has just barely escaped an encounter with her abusive and deadly father Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) and half-brother Niedermann (Micke Spreitz).  She survives thanks to the involvement of Mickael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), her sometimes partner in mystery solving, who was following Lisbeth fearing that she was walking into her death.

Shortly after beginning her recovery in the hospital Lisbeth finds that she is in the cross-hairs of The Section, a secret branch of the Swedish police who's ranks include Zalachenko and were involved in a lot of dirty dealings.  The members of The Section begin their plan to publicly humiliate Lisbeth and privately assassinate her in case things go wrong.  While they plot, Lisbeth's allies in Millennium, the publication Blomkvist works at, are planning her defense and thinking of ways to counter the personal danger that they have now all suddenly found themselves waist deep in.  Meanwhile, creeping in the background, Niedermann is murdering his way across the Swedish landscape looking for a moment to strike back at Lisbeth.

It might seem trite to round out the series with a trial but they do a damn good job of it.

As you can see, there are a lot of story threads that are going on in this third film but there's never any confusion about who is doing what and why.  Director Daniel Alfredson did an exquisite job making sure that everyone's motivations and actions are laid out in such a way that is easy to follow, and editor Mattias Morheden keeps the pace roaring toward the finish line at Lisbeth's trial.  This is particularly impressive considering the nearly comatose acts of the second film, but I applaud the growth that Alfredson showed between films and the results paid off tremendously.

Despite the dark subject matter this is an incredibly entertaining film that works on all of it's chosen levels.  It's not the deepest character study, but the examination of Lisbeth's psyche and subsequent resilience to the torture she's endured over the years provides an excellent catharsis in this last act.  The secret plotting scenes have just the right level of deviousness and the very public duel between The Section and Millennium's public liaisons is exhilarating.  A giddy thrill courses through the film as they feint, attack, fake out and defend against the other's plans.

All of this culminates in two climaxes - one excellent and the other a little embarrassing.  The courtroom scenes that round out the back half of TGWKtHN are funny and engaging, but also do something that's very tricky.  They manage to redeem the somewhat exploitative violence and rape of the first film by forcing some of the other characters to watch what Lisbeth went through.  It changes the scope of those actions between something that's shared mostly for us, the audience, and something that can actually weigh in on the consciouses of the characters.

Zalachenko here is a dash of Marlon Brando mixed with Lex Luthor and completely distracting. Thankfully, this is dealt with appropriately and surprisingly.

The less impressive climax comes with the showdown between Lisbeth and Niedermann.  It's a pretty fun chase and gratefully short chase but Niedermann's presence feels totally out of place with the rest of the world.  A big problem with the second film is the sometimes cartoonish supervillainy that the antagonists displayed.  A Nordic Terminator doesn't exactly mesh with the films examination of violence against women and the psychic scars that form.  Thankfully one half of the supervillain equation is dealt with early on in a moment that caught me off guard, and the other half does get payback in a bit of double ironic justice.

As is the case with the last two films Noomi Rapace's performance is the high point.  Here she is given ample screen time but has almost a quarter of the dialogue that she did in the second film, leaving about five minutes of speaking time.  But she is so damn perfect in the role that her subtle confident and aggressive body language that she is capable of, even when slouching, commands my attention.  The other performances are just fine, but this series has been Rapace's from the beginning and she's done a fantastic job with the role.

Now the trilogy has come to a close and the American remake is on the horizon.  While I look forward to seeing what David Fincher is going to do with the source material, I'm pleased that the Swedish telling of the story was able to finish in style.  I hate to see this incarnation of Lisbeth go, but trilogy's so rarely end on this high a point.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2010)
Directed by Daniel Alfredson.
Screenplay by Jonas Frykberg.
Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.
Starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist.

Posted by Andrew

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