The biggest question I was pondering on the way in to watch The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest was could this final Millennium film make up for the woeful second instalment, and claw back some of the respect I had for the first entry, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)? Alas, the answer is no. Hornets’ Nest continues the utterly preposterous writing of The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden) and has the unfortunate duty of simply wrapping up that which has come before, rather than being a film in its own right.
Beginning hours after the second flick’s conclusion, Hornets’ Nest finds Lisbeth Salander convalescing in hospital. She’s been charged with the attempted murder of her father, Alexander Zalachenko, whilst her half-brother, Ronald Niedermann is on the run. Mikael Blomkvist’s sister is the lawyer representing Lisbeth and, try as she might, she can’t encourage her defendant to provide any useful information pertaining to the case. Meanwhile, the members of the conspiracy Mikael has been investigating are doing their best to tie up ‘loose ends’ like Lisbeth and her supporters.
Many complained that the second film acted merely as a bridge between the first and third, however I found that for the most part that film’s narrative was quite comfortably self-contained. This isn’t the case with Hornets’ Nest, which can really only been seen as an extended epilogue to The Girl Who Played with Fire, complete with ridiculous plotting.
It’s a genius of sorts: we have geriatric assassins on dialysis who shuffle towards their victims, a wanted murderer on the run from the law who is leaving a trail of bodies – even dispatching victims right outside his hiding place and making no effort to conceal his activity – and finally, we have a court case that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Knowing nothing about Swedish law, it should be easy to assume that it’s vastly different to what we have in Australia, England or the US, but even with those blinkers on, it wasn’t enough. We see irrelevant and surprise evidence rear its head again and again, Lisbeth running rings around a supposedly expert prosecution counsel and an overall case that doesn’t actually pay any attention to the evidence surrounding Lisbeth’s attacking her father with the axe, which you’d think would be pretty important since she’s up for attempted murder.
As with the previous Millennium instalment, this film simply couldn’t maintain suspension of disbelief – and I’m usually willing to overlook cinematic irrationality or inconsistencies if it makes for a fun ride (even re-watching the ludicrous Bryan Brown thriller F/X last night made for some great viewing). Not having read Stieg Larsson’s series, I can only assume that perhaps the naturally slower pace makes the more ludicrous moments less distracting, but certainly films two and three haven’t made me want to go out and buy the books.
The main problem with Hornets’ Nest is that the odds never seem insurmountable. The threats to our heroes are pissweak and watching ‘The Section’ run around like metaphorical headless chooks in an effort to fix things makes it very hard to believe that this decades old conspiracy has never been uncovered.
The best thing I can say about The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is that it doesn’t get boring, and it’s supported by some great performances. Of course, Noomi Rapace gives an entrancing performance, however the film also benefits from the increased role of Annika Hallin as Lisbeth’s legal defence, Annika Giannini. Her calm and measured approach every step of the way brings an element of dignity to an otherwise silly film.Rating: