With “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” the Millennium trilogy comes to a close on the big screen. At least the Swedish take on the wildly popular books does. Next up they’ll be given the David Fincher Hollywood treatment, which I originally thought was a bad idea. Leave well enough alone. But now, having seen all three of the Swedish entries I think it’s time someone else had a crack at bringing these pulpy, complicated and deliciously fun stories to the big screen.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” picks up about an hour after its predecessor, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” left off. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is in the hospital after being beaten, shot and left for dead by her father and half brother. In a room just down the hall her estranged—and very strange—father, is recuperating after being hit in the head with an axe by his daughter. It’s all very Greek tragedy. Meanwhile a wide reaching and ludicrously complicated scheme to have Lisbeth declared insane and hospitalized for the rest of her life is under way. It involves secret government organizations, some deep dark backroom dealings and a miasma of missing and mysterious documents. Only Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has the know-how, and possibly the patience, to plough through this mess and keep his former lover out of the bin.
The beauty of the first film in this series, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” was that while it was a pulp thriller, complete with Nazis, bible references and bondage, it had a certain elegance in the way it unfurled its outlandish story, loads of action and a great central character in Lisbeth. Since then, however, the series has been an exercise in diminishing returns. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” committed the great sin of stretching every plot point past its breaking point and its sequel, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is even worse, stretching our interest past its breaking point.
Talky, drawn out and largely action-free it endlessly rehashes Lisbeth’s life story while, by and large, she sits there mute. It’s such a waste of a character, which in the first episode of the story had the promise of becoming one of the great female characters of recent years.
Cinematically two thirds of this series has been a bitter disappointment. Perhaps it’s better to stay at home with the books until the David Fincher version hits the big screen next year.