The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Three films later and the appeal of the exploitative, plot-larded film adaptations of Stieg Larsson's "Millenium" trilogy is still lost on me. —The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest—, the third and hopefully final film (the debate over whether or not novelist Larsson's unfinished fourth manuscript should be published posthumously is still ongoing, after all), is a 2 1/2 hour epilogue. As —Hornet's Nest— is a neo-noir about the gathering and dissemination of information, it's more than a little sad to see that director Daniel Alfredson and screenwriters Jonas Fryberg and Ulf Ryberg have only produced a long, ungainly and uncinematic info dump whose sole purpose is to resolve plot threads leftover from the series' last entry. Spoiler alert: the titular girl's problems are resolved and she gets her revenge.
The plot of this film is so dependent on the plots of the last two films that it's basically a Friday episode of —Days of Our Lives—. Previously on "Stand-Offish But Bad-Ass Rape Victim and the Journalist that Loved Her:" Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has just survived an attack from her evil papa Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov). Zalachenko, a member of a super-secret organization that has fingers in every pie in Stockholm and hence Sweden in general, was set to be the fall guy for the crimes that Lisbeth—who incidentally was abused by her father—exposed. The only person of influence in her corner, as in the last two movies, is crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). Meanwhile, Lisbeth's evil Albino half-brother (Micke Spreitz) is hiding out around the Swedish countryside but can be frequently seen lurking about the film's periphery, listening to radio broadcasts and waiting for his chance to strike.
Which is pretty much what everyone else throughout the rest of the movie does, though most of them have more substantial parts and some of them even have dialogue. In fact, it seems like everybody in the film except Lisbeth's demi-bro takes turns sharing information with one another, expressly spelling out why everything that's happening in the film has consequences. But it doesn't: the smoking gun Mikael and his team of journalist have been looking for is something they've known they had on-hand since the first film. This isn't a spoiler: that key bit of evidence comes up three times over the course of — Hornet's Nest—, its significance fully grasped by the cast. This reveals the plot of —Hornet's Nest— for what it really is: a long slog to an inevitable conclusion that was broadcast over the course of three films whose combined runtime is more than seven hours.
Then again, what would you expect from a franchise whose tension is inherently spoiled by the trusty and ever-ready platonic resource Lisbeth has in Mikael Mikael has the power of the press on his side: as the editor of Millennium Magazine, he devotes an entire issue to telling Lisbeth's story in an attempt to expose her persecutors. Without a thought, Mikael tells his sub-editors that they'll need 75 pages-worth of material devoted to Lisbeth's story, 30 of which are devoted just to discrediting the psychiatrist who abused Lisbeth while she was a teenage asylum inmate (right, right, Zalachenko previously committed his daughter to an asylum at the age of 12 after she set him on fire, as was alluded to in —The Girl Who Played with Fire— and now this film through flashbacks).
Worst of all, Lisbeth is still poor old under-developed Lisbeth. She's still a great big question mark who flaunts her impenetrability by huffily refusing to answer anyone's questions unless she feels like it. Lisbeth's a pre-packaged, feministsploitation icon: she records her graphic rape at the hands of a legal guardian with a mini digtal camera in — Dragon Tattoo— and uses that footage to her advantage in that film, too. She gets closure from that same covertly shot footage again in — Hornet's Nest—, but this time, she's exhibiting her debasement to a public audience of judges that ultimately will determine her fate. It's her way of getting her voice back and because she's the one filmed her rape, she did it on her own terms, too.
These dubious claims to female empowerment might be worth taking seriously if the brutality of the rape in question wasn't accentuated in —The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo— by a post-sodomy shot of Lisbeth limping away. More importantly, there's the stupefying way that Lisbeth puts on a lot of goth make-up and does up her hair in a Mohawk again in —The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest— to signify that she's going to war with, um, those evil, faceless Swedish guys that shall not be named. She is a serious and ferocious lady and hence will look like a Hot Topic model if she wants to. Tell me another one.
Opens October 29