Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a Tedious Finale
by Jeremy Kirk
November 5, 2010
It should have been called The Girl Who Practiced the Law of Diminishing Returns instead of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. It makes more sense, and, just like this third and final film in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, it is cumbersome and feels awkward in every part of its execution.
Lisbeth Salander, the titular Girl from all three films, is back again, and, after unearthing and taking on neo-Nazis and discovering her sadistic father is alive (not to mention welcoming him with a well-placed ax to the head), she's bringing down the system. Sounds interesting, right? Wrong. She does so from within the confines of a prison hospital, awaiting trial for the events that transpired at the end of The Girl Who Played With Fire. The sexy and dangerous sense of excitement found in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (less so with Played With Fire) has given way to gray, cement walls. They're blockish. They're pointlessly extensive. Most important of all, they're wholly ponderous.
The thought of Salander, played once again by the enigmatic and daring Noomi Rapace, and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, again played by Michael Nyqvist, going after a secret organization within the Swedish government might have sounded interesting right after the first film. Dragon Tattoo is a solid and powerful mystery that introduced two very interesting characters.
Sadly, in Played With Fire, one of those characters' story was expanded, and it was realized very quickly that those characters we thought were so interesting were not very interesting at all. The second film of the trilogy was long-winded and full of awkward moments that ranged from slightly outlandish to out-and-out cringe-inducing. Here, with the third film, the story becomes even more long-winded and that awkwardness, something that elicited some idea of intrigue, has been replaced with complete tedium.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a painfully grueling film, a series of countless scenes of people sitting in rooms talking. Sure, that talk might hold some interest. Again, secret organizations that hold power in the world can bring about some intriguing ideas. Sadly, it's all a missed opportunity with this film.
Maybe Stieg Larsson, the late author of the Millennium Trilogy of books, is to blame. The films are direct adaptations of his work, and the issues that arise in Hornet's Nest, as well as many of the issues found in Played With Fire, begin with the story at hand. You take these characters who were so interesting at one point and you have them spend 150 minutes either sitting at computers typing or sitting around a table talking. Where is the intrigue? Where is the mystery? Where is the intense animal magnetism that was thrust upon us in the first story?
It doesn't help matters that this secret organization Salander and Blomkvist are going after shrouded in as little mystery as possible. Their intentions and their members are made known right from the start. There is nothing to sort out on the audience's end. All the audience is left to do is watch as the film's two leads play a game of catch up.
When one sits back and looks at the events that transpire in Hornet's Nest, it seems fairly evident that this film is essentially an epilogue to Played With Fire. The two films tell one, continuous story, and much editing and reworking could have whittled them down into one, concise film. Hornet's Nest even begins mere minutes after the end of the previous film.
This brings us to the film's run time. Never before has a run time felt so unnecessary. Very little happens in the course of Hornet's Nest 150 minutes. It includes long, pointless scenes of Blomkvist working on a special edition of his Millennium Magazine that will uncover the truth behind Salander and what has happened to her. A subplot involving the magazine getting threats about the article could have easily chopped 15 minutes out of an ungainly length.
A few, sporadic action pieces try to help move the rambling sense of tedium along, but they just come across as shoe-horned and without grace. The final 20 minutes of the film ratchets up the danger level a bit. Sadly, by that point, the film has lost all grip on the audience. The finale of the film, in turn the finale of the entire trilogy, is about as unsatisfying as a hollow, chocolate bunny.
Of course, none of this is helped by Daniel Alfredson, the returning director who also helmed Played With Fire. The dark tones and stylish gloss Niels Arden Opley brought to Dragon Tattoo has vanished. Alfredson brings a warmer tone to the films, but it's out of place with the story at hand. Anything shrouded in mystery is always better when the lights are turned down. Alfredson disagrees, and the natural lighting of both the second and now this film saps any sense of enigma out of the execution.
Fortunately, this third film, along with Alfredson, also brings back Rapace and Nyqvist. Both are solid and make every attempt at pulling any engagement out of their character. They aren't given much, but their presence and what they try to do ends up being the only positive found within the whole of the film.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a jading conclusion to the Millennium Trilogy, a drudging film that would have come across even worse had the previous film brought out as much interest and excitement as the first. Perhaps it wasn't the lead characters we found so interesting in Dragon Tattoo. Perhaps it was the mystery they were solving, a wholly unmarried narrative from these last two films. The Girl at the heart of these films was better left in the dark. The light only makes her familiar, and, as the last two films of this trilogy prove, familiarity doesn't necessarily breed contempt. It most certainly breeds boredom.
Jeremy's Rating: 4 out of 10