The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre and the new Kenwood Theatre
Review by: Larry Thomas
The old saying “third time’s the charm” doesn’t necessarily apply to movies. The Godfather series created two masterpieces followed by a misbegotten coda, which earned a whirlwind of scorn from critics and public alike. The ground-breaking Jaws gave birth to an acceptable sequel in number two, but the next outing, Jaws 3-D, was basically a remake of 1955’s Revenge Of The Creature…and not as good as the source material.
Now we’re ready for the third and final installment of author Steig Larsen’s Millennium Trilogy. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo took the world by storm, both in print and on screen, and was so widely accepted that an American studio snapped up the rights to remake the stunning Swedish thriller. The second tale, The Girl Who Played With Fire, kept everything well lit with plenty of plot and action. Noomi Rapace once again commanded the screen as Lisbeth Salander, the computer hacker and investigator who uncovered all sorts of nefarious deeds.
The final chapter in this saga, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, seems a little tired compared to the first two. There’s still plenty of plot, characters and action, but it feels draggy and is the first of the three where you may look at your watch during the two-and-a-half hour running time. Rapace as Salander is still an important part of the events, but spends most of the film either recovering from injuries in a hospital room, or in a courtroom during her trial for murder. The pacing issues are likely due to a change of director: Neils Oplev helmed the first film, which was completely stunning and gripping. Daniel Alfredson took over for numbers two and three. If the final results are to be the indicator, then Oplev is definitely a better director.
Michael Nyqvist is back as the journalist who is Lisbeth’s mentor and associate, sometimes accomplice, in uncovering the various crimes and mysteries. He’s still fine in the role, and the rest of the Swedish supporting cast is quite capable. Rumor has it that Dolph Lundgren was offered the role of the giant, sadistic villain, but turned it down. Too bad, as it would have been not only interesting casting, but Lundgren’s first opportunity to film in his native language.
And taking a page from Hollywood’s playbook, despite the death of author Larsen, and no more original novels to adapt, the filmmakers have left the ending open for the possibility of yet another sequel in the series. Never pass up a golden opportunity.
The Millennium Trilogy is much like the Lord Of The Rings series: if you’re a big fan of the books and films, then you likely can’t wait to see The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. If you’re not a fan, then it’s just another movie… and not as good as the first two. But nitpicking aside, it’s still better than most stuff churned out by American studios on a regular basis.