14 November 2010

Review: "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest takes place immediately after The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second film in Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. All three novels are very complex and include a great number of details. The first film in the trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, remains the most well-crafted of the three. There was a change in director between the first and second films and Daniel Alfredson has been unable to match Niels Arden Oplev's intensity. It should be said that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the densest of the three novels and the screenwriter, Ulf Rydberg, was given a tremendous chore in deciding which elements to exclude. There is so much historical and political background in the third installment and it does not necessarily have cinematic appeal, and while trying to cut out a lot of the background information the film also forget character development. The most unfortunate element of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is that Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth Salander seems much more subdued and she is not given room to shine. Rapace is the undeniable star of the trilogy and it is a shame that this tough heroine is treated as little more than a supporting actor. Fans of Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy will find themselves frustrated by The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest film adaptation. The success of the second film is dependent on the success of the third because it is one continuing story, unlike The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which stands alone in terms of plot. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest has a decent first half but the second part of the film is too rushed and too forced and it left me disappointed.

The film begins with Lisbeth Salander being airlifted to a hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. Lisbeth has been shot in the head, shoulder and hip after the violent confrontation with Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), her father. Lisbeth has been arrested for the attempted murder of Zalachenko, though her physician, Dr. Jonasson (Askel Morisse) attempts to prevent the police from speaking to her. Meanwhile her half-brother, Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), has gone into hiding. While Lisbeth recuperates in the hospital, Mikael Blomkvist (Mikael Nyqvist) has hired his sister Annika (Annika Hallin) as her lawyer. Annika must try to acquit Lisbeth of attempted murder while also proving she is fully competent. It becomes more difficult when Peter Teleborian (Anders Abholm), Lisbeth's former psychiatrist, joins the prosecution to recommit her to a mental hospital. As Annika works to prove Lisbeth's innocence, Blomkvist begins working with the police to prove that a secret government called The Section was involved in a conspiracy against Lisbeth.

The novel The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is loaded with government history and politics, but so much of it is necessary to fully understand Lisbeth Salander. She is an unlikely heroine, a character who is both antisocial and extremely volatile. The first novel and film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, only introduces Lisbeth Salander and treats Mikael Blomkvist as the main character. It is not until The Girl Who Played with Fire that we begin to understand her complexities. She is such an incredible and outrageous character that it is disappointing that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest does not give her a fitting farewell. Both Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are treated as stock characters. The character development of Mikael Blomkvist is nonexistent in this third film. There is very little interaction between Lisbeth and Blomkvist in this third film and the sexual tension has disappeared. The only consolation is the hope that David Fincher's American remake of the Millennium Trilogy will include a much more compelling finale.

My rating: 2 stars out of 4.

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