The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Film review by: Witney Seibold
My central complaint with “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” the film to precede this one, was it’s classical sequel fatigue; often when a film or book is a big hit (as was Stieg Larsson‘s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the subsequent film based on it), the inevitable sequel makes the mistake of making the story less about the characters solving a new problem, and more about the characters’ personal lives. I don’t necessarily want to know the origins of the characters from the first film. I don’t want to know how Lisbeth Salander became violent and oppressed. I don’t need to see how Mikael discovers her personal connections to the bad guys. I just want to see them in action again, preferably on a whole new case.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” directed by Daniel Alfredson, is the third and final part in this series (although the three-book saga is also being developed for Swedish TV in miniseries form, and a planned English-language remake is in the works), and, I am sad to report, it also continues the classic sequel fatigue notions that made the last film so inferior to the taut excitement of the first. Indeed, “Hornet’s Nest” is so devoted to the workings of Salader’s life, and so wrapped up in the plotline minutiae from the previous film, that it seems to exist only to wrap up the loose ends from that film. Both “Hornet’s” and “Fire” seem to be a large, two-part megasequel to a perfectly decent thriller, where there is more soap opera drama than crime thriller.
Salander (Noomi Rapace, still biting into the role with a huge amount of gloriously antisocial energy) is in the hospital. Her wicked, molesting, evil Russian ex-spy father (Georgi Staykov, whom Lisbeth tried to kill at the end of the last film) is also still alive, and they’ve been taken to the same hospital. A shadowy cadre of government officials, mostly gray old men in brown coats, all of whom or pretty much indistiguishable, has assembled elsewhere to discuss the matter, and decides that hitmen must be hired, and certain people must be killed. There are no desperate chases, though, as Lisbeth is largely bedridden, and Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) only discovers certain assassination attempts after the fact. The film also takes Lisbeth to trial, and all her actions come to light, as she seeks justice for a lifetime of abuse.
Stieg Larsson clearly has a very strong feminist message in all this, and he seems to be openly condemning the “good old boy” attitude that permeates through old-world places of old-style brutal authority, i.e., the police, the courts, the public services sector. He is also trying to come up with a healhty revenge fantasy for any woman who was ever abused or molested, and who never had the chance to become a millionaire hacker. By giving Salander an “out” to her crimes, she becomes a feminist vigilante for all abused women in the world, and becomes a fantasy heroine for the world. This is all well and good, but it’s unfortunate that Alfredson could not couch those ideas in thriller; his film seems to be all wish fulfillment, and no tension.
There is one action sequence near the end of the film where Salander must escape the machine-like revenge brutality of her evil, mammalian brother, and it’s a fun chase, all set inside an abandoned factory. Refreshingly, there are no sparks or pools of molten metal to fall into. Other than this, though, and of course, other than Rapace’s wonderful performance, “Hornet’s Nest” is a little too neat to be a good film on it’s own. I suppose it’s a fine way to wrap up the story, and fans of the series would do well to see it, but there doesn’t seem much meat to the film.