Film Review: Part 3 – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (2010) picks up literally where Fire leaves off.  It completes the story of one of the most interesting and endearing characters of recent film memory.  There isn’t a person that comes to mind that is like Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace).  She is smart, blocked off, methodical, and lethal when she needs to be, yet at the same time, as the trilogy unfolds and concludes here, we find ourselves surprisingly connected to her, rooting for her despite her outward appearance.  In a way, I found myself wanting the story to continue passed where this film ends; this is a character whose journey I’m willing to follow step by agonizing step.

The film starts with Lisbeth surviving the events that happened in the previous film, being transported to a hospital after the brutal confrontation with Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) and the blond man-tank, Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz).  Unfortunately, with the information we gathered from the previous film, she is still connected to the three murders that took place, and after having bullets removed from her body (including one lodged in her brain) she is immediately locked away to stand trial.  Interestingly enough, with the two other films, Lisbeth featured as one of the main investigators, using her technical know-how to uncover the truth about the cases she was working on.  Here, she spends much of her time in confinement, being interrogated and analyzed.  This gives us the opportunity to follow her close friend-in-need, reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist).

The majority of the film features Blomkvist and his cohorts at Millenium Magazine working to prove Lisbeth’s innocence.  Through their investigation, we learn the extent of Lisbeth and her background, her relationship with her mother and abusive father, her time in a mental hospital under the care of the cruel Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom), what she had to go through with her guardian in the first movie, and how it all ties in to a secret group known only as “The Section”.  If only the detectives were as extensive in their research as Blomkvist is with Lisbeth’s case, perhaps she wouldn’t be as standoffish to authority figures, but then we wouldn’t have an interesting movie.  Along the way, Blomkvist, his sister Erika Berger (Lena Endre) who is also working as Lisbeth’s lawyer, and the rest of the Millenium team must face challenges and difficulty in collecting their evidence, which includes threats to their own well being.  This all leads to the third act of the movie, which works as a court film, where the truth is finally exposed, and all the loose ends are tied neatly together.

Lisbeth Salander has got to be one of the toughest characters, male or female, in recent movie history.  To say she is a survivor is almost an understatement.  She has had to suffer a lifetime of abuse and mistreatment from the very people she’s supposed to trust, and yet she perseveres.  She has been sexually abused, beaten, lied to, bounded, shot, and buried alive, it’s difficult to contemplate the amount of darkness she has seen in her short life.  It’s almost no wonder that she acts the way she does in this trilogy; she distrusts pretty much everyone.  When Blomkvist’s sister comes to her aid she almost rejects her through her silence.  Whenever she has the opportunity to develop a real relationship with another person, she immediately removes herself from that situation.  She wears spikes, puts her hair in a Mohawk, and covers her face with gothic make up, shoving her style in the face of the establishment, because it is the establishment that has mistreated her so.  Throughout the trilogy we learn more about her background so that when she does get her payback on those that have wronged her, we are along right by her side.  There is a moment during the trial, where a person is seen for who they truly are, and we see Lisbeth crack the slightest smile.  Although this act is small, we know how much history is behind that smile, and how she must be feeling at this particular moment.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have the most peculiar of relationships.  He in his mid forties, her in her mid twenties.  He working as a writer at a magazine, she working as a freelance investigator and computer hacker.  He is more straight-laced, like an everyman, she is gothic and bisexual, with a large dragon tattoo on her back and a cigarette constantly hanging from her mouth.  These two could not be any more different, yet for some reason we come to believe that these two would have some sort of bond.  In the first film, that relationship was consummated in sexuality, but with the second and third film, it seems that their connection ran deeper than just a physical nature.  Here, in this film, they spend nearly the entirety away from each other, and yet they are still closely linked.  What one person does has an effect on the other, and vice versa.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they were both outsiders in their own right, and because of that shared experience they understand each other a little better than anyone else would.

Although the film fits perfectly within the context of the entire trilogy, it does have its problems when examined as a singular movie.  The first is that the pacing of the film takes awhile to gain momentum.  There is a ton of exposition that could have been shortened down to make a more compact narrative.  The opening act dragged a little bit, and I found myself having some difficulty getting in to the film at first.  There are a ton of different threads running simultaneously, and perhaps they all don’t tie in together as solidly as they could have.  Overall, it seems that the film was really uneven.  One of the major issues the film had was in regard to the Ronald Niedermann character.  This massively huge caricature of a person was really a throwaway character in the story, his actions had little to no bearing to the rest of the movie, and the final confrontation between him and Lisbeth was really unnecessary.

But despite its missteps, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest works as a satisfactory, albeit underwhelming, end to the story of Lisbeth Salander.  And it is Lisbeth that makes this trilogy worth watching.  This, along with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, brought forth a character that is both memorable and sympathetic, we felt her hurt and vulnerability underneath that tough outer shell.  She is such an interesting and fascinating character that hers is a story that I actually wouldn’t mind to see continue.  Just take a look at the final scene between Lisbeth and Mikael in her apartment.  Notice the conversation they have, but even more importantly, notice the conversation they don’t have.  There are words there that should be said, feelings that should be shared.  Perhaps, one day they will be, we can only imagine.

Final Grade: B


Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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