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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Got Me Stung

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest = 2 ½ out of 5 Stars
Dr. Jonasson: That seems like quite a large tattoo you have on your back. Why did you get it?
Lisbeth Salander: That's personal.
Dr. Jonasson: Sorry. It just seems like it hurt and it took a long time.
Lisbeth Salander: Well you're right. It did hurt, and it did take a long time.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the final Swedish film adaptation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which was preceded by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire.  Unfortunately, the series has delivered in diminishing returns.  This film is in fact the weakest of the trilogy for obvious reasons.  While the first two films delivered upon having both an incredibly interesting lead female character and intriguing mystery elements, this film robs us of both those aspects, delivering instead a merely average thriller.

Picking up right where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is now hospitalized after the meeting with her father and over-sized, half-brother, Niedermann.  While Lisbeth heals up from a few gunshot wounds, members of a secret police do what they can to protect themselves from what Lisbeth knows by pinning a number of murders on her and taking all the steps to keep her locked away in confinement.  Fortunately for Lisbeth, however, Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), the acclaimed writer for Millennium magazine and friend/former lover to Lisbeth is dead set on doing everything he can to prove her innocence in all crimes and point the fingers at all of the men who have been conspiring against her for the majority of her life.  The rest of the film essentially ties up any lose ends that the first two movies may have introduced.

As I mentioned, there are two major problems with this film.  The first is the function of Lisbeth this time around. Everything happens around her, with the exception of a sequence at the end.  All of the characters are dealing with things having to do with her, and for a good portion of the film, Lisbeth decides to be silent towards those interrogating her.  The character of Lisbeth Salander has been a breakout this year.  She is the goth, bisexual, chain smoking, computer hacking expert that many have fallen for, yet this film denies people of that intriguing element.  A lot of that fun also came from the chemistry she shared with Michael in the first film, but just as in the second film, they are once again torn apart for the majority of this film.  While Noomi Rapace clearly knows how to play this character, and lets it show at the right moments, she really does not get the chance do a whole lot for a film so centered on this character's history.

The other problem with this film is its lack of mystery.  There is no suspense in the proceedings of this film.  Much of the plot is about watching both the secret conspirators and the Millennium writers develop and find evidence for the oh-so important courtroom scene, but we the audience know exactly what has transpired in the past and what evidence exists already.  Because of this, by the time the film gets to the seemingly important court room scene, it simply goes through the obvious motions to reach a concluding point.  There is never a sense that any of these characters are in any danger, it is simply stretched out into a very uninvolving procedural sequence.  There is also a sequence, which I have already hinted at, towards the end that would seem suspenseful, but it is handled in such a way that is so by-the-numbers for a thriller, that I was once again put off.

Now to the film's credit, I do like the actors and handling of the tone of the film.  Having now seen all three, they certainly have a connected feel; although the first film did have a different director and some of the more slick direction has been missing ever since.  Still, this film is well made in terms of the material it is dealing with.  However, I can't say the same about the pacing of the film.  It is two and a half hours long, and it certainly feels that way by the time you reach the end.

It is unfortunate that I have to come down so hard on this film.  I was feeling somewhat more positive before, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that there is not anything that would make me want to watch this entry again.  ‘Dragon Tattoo’ is a solid feature, which I would be happy to revisit. ‘Fire’ may end on a cliffhanger, but I would still be intrigued to check it out again.  This film is just a long denouement to the series that lacks a good mystery and denies us of the interesting character that we enjoy seeing most.  If the upcoming, David Fincher-directed remake of the first film turns into a series, I will be interested to see how they re-work this film.
Dr. Jonasson: I got you a present.
Lisbeth Salander: Why?
Dr. Jonasson: Because you are by far the most interesting patient I have had in quite some time. 

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