The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Dir: Daniel Alfredson

Rating: 1.7/5.0

Music Box Films

148 Minutes

In my reviews of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, adaptations of the first two part’s of Stieg Larsson’s wildly popular “Millennium Trilogy” also released this year, I complained of the lurid subject that seemed to exist only to feed the basest part of what drives us to the cinema. Rape, graphic sex and horrific violence, but played straight, without the knowing edge of a slasher film, injected only to titillate and for us to hate the men who torment Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a heroine who joins Bella as a ubiquitous part of our current popular culture. However, in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third and final part of the trilogy, most of the violence and sex that pervaded the first two films have been stripped away to leave behind nothing but a boring film that finally arrives on American shores not only limp and played-out, but DOA from the start.

This time around, Lisbeth is coalescing in a Swedish hospital as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (reprised by Michael Nyqvist) pursues a secret organization of governmental higher-ups known as “The Section,” out to re-commit Lisbeth to a mental institution to protect their involvement in her incarceration prior to the start of the trilogy. I’m not really sure what putting her back in the mental institution will do, besides give her former tormenter Dr. Teleborian (a one-note Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl) the opportunity to molest her again. These dirty old men!

But while the first two parts of the trilogy held interest by getting us squarely behind both Lisbeth and Mikael as they fought to expose the truth, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is nothing but a slog, a terribly uninteresting procedural directed by Daniel Alfredson as if a second bit television program barely worth the effort. And the first 30 minutes could perhaps be the most boring reel of film produced this year.

Unlike the best trilogies, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest cannot stand alone. Names and events from the prior two films are thrown at us as if we were supposed to remember or care about characters and plots only perfunctorily introduced in the prior films. And if you do begin to snooze during these soporific 30 minutes, Alfredson is happy to remind us of the horrific rape and arson in the first film with unnecessary flashback footage.

The most unfortunate part of the The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is its heroine has nothing to do but sit in a hospital, prison cell and courtroom until the last five minutes of the movie. We want to see Lisbeth Salander kick ass and fuck over the guys who fucked her, not lie around comatose and stare daggers at enemies in court. When she finally gets to fight at the end, it’s with an opponent who more or less exists only for this final scene. Bummer.

When the news came down that a Hollywood remake of Dragon Tattoo was coming soon, I bemoaned the fact that Americans just can’t deal with films with subtitles. But after seeing David Fincher’s masterful The Social Network, I am very curious to watch what he does with Larsson’s book. It can’t really be much worse than this film.

by David Harris

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