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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes) (2010) **

November 3, 2010

Written by: Stieg Larsson (novel) and Ulf Ryberg (screenplay – as Ulf Rydberg)

Produced by: Søren Stærmose

Directed by: Daniel Alfredson

Rated R for strong violence, some sexual material, and brief language

148 min

U.S. Release Date: October 29, 2010 (limited)

In The Girl Who Kicked in Hornet’s Nest, Director Daniel Alfredson delivers the final installment of the internationally popular trilogy by author Stieg Larsson often referred to as The Millennium Series.  The books/films center around two main storylines: an investigative newspaper in Stockholm that explores dark and looming stories mostly involving conspiracy theories, and a young woman with a troubled past who lives as a computer hacker and often helps the Millennium staff with some key digital evidence or findings.  The three books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, have been widely lauded as the pinnacle of modern fiction writing, while the films have been criticized for falling flat and steadily getting worse.  With the second film unanimously not living up to the success of the first, will the grand finale send the trilogy riding off successfully into the sunset, or keep the downward trend going?

 

 

 

After all of the crazy plot developments of the first two films, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) wakes up in a hospital’s intensive care ward recovering from some serious injuries.  She soon finds out that she is awaiting trial for the murder of three people – a crime she has seemingly been framed for.  When Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) finds out of Lisbeth’s arrest, he has a strong hunch of her innocence, and begins the journey of finding out more.  When he digs a little deeper, he proves his theory correct, so Blomkvist’s quest is to free Lisbeth from these terrible allegations.  Lisbeth, however, has some different plans: to exact revenge on the people who framed her and left her for dead.

 

The main plot unfolds much like that of the first and second films; a new twist in the overall plot and a new case for Blomkvist and Lisbeth to solve, along with a plan for revenge against “the bad guys”.  Although there is an overarching story that spans across the trilogy, each individual film plays a little on the “Law and Order” side, as each film pulls the viewer through a slightly formulaic two-and-a-half hour plotline that gets a little repetitive after a third go-around.  Though I plan to, I have not read Larsson’s books, and I have heard that they are far superior to the films in terms of plot detail and complete storytelling.

 

 

The performances in the final film match the caliber of its two predecessors; Nyqvist’s performance as Blomkvist enough to carry the films, and Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander is so powerful that it has landed her bigger jobs in Hollywood (look for her in the upcoming sequel of Sherlock Holmes).  While some of the less-commendable acting choices made in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest may come as a result of editing (cutting the total running time down from an insane three hours or more), the ensemble overall was pretty great considering what they had to work with; a film packed with scene after scene of heavy dialogue and little physical action to cut up the monotony.

 

If you like the books, or saw and liked the two previous films, seeing the finale is a must no matter what I say about it.  However, if for some reason you find yourself at a theater with little choice of films to see, and you haven’t seen the two prior films, try to veer away from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest if possible.  After seeing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I found the very idea of an American remake to be ridiculous.  The first Swedish film was so well done that I thought that the Hollywood project would come nowhere near its caliber.  However, having seen the trilogy in its entirety, I am a little more open to the idea of a U.S.-made trilogy.  All this said, Larsson’s source material is so well detailed and involved that it’s possible that no film will do it justice.  If you haven’t seen any of the Millennium films, head over to Netflix and watch The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on Watch Instantly and leave it at that… it’s all downhill from there.

 

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