Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Original title or aka: Luftslottet som sprängdes

Director: Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Anders Ahlbom and Aksel Morisse
Distributor: Independent
Runtime: 147 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong violence

Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millenium’ series has become a world-wide book phenomenon. Directed by Daniel Alfredson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the final film adaptation of the late author’s trilogy, and those disappointed that the second film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, wasn’t as cutting edge or riveting as the highly successful first film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by Niels Arden Oplev), should be (mostly) happy with the result.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest begins directly where the second film ends, and sees the series’ punk and intriguingly androgynous hero Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) on life support in a Swedish hospital, after attacking her abusive father Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) with a hatchet, and being shot in the head in return.

Due to be tried in Stockholm for three murders once she has recovered from her injuries, Lisbeth is cared for in hospital by a sympathetic young doctor, Anders Jonasson (Aksel Morisse), and assigned a lawyer, Annika (Annika Giannini), the sister of her friend and champion, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist, As It Is In Heaven), the editor of ‘Millenium’, an investigative magazine.

But when attempts are made to kill Lisbeth and prevent her from giving testimony in court, Lisbeth’s computer-hacker friend Plague (Tomas Kohler), and Blomkvist’s small team at Millenium unearth information for a tell-all article that will not only prove Lisbeth’s innocence, but denounce those in Sweden’s corrupt power elites who over the years have systematically abused her and, by inference, unknown others.

Most of the action in this long but generally engrossing final episode is focussed on unravelling who wants Lisbeth dead or incarcerated in a mental institution, and why. For this reason, perhaps, there are less complex twists and turns than in the previous two films based on Larsson’s sadly unfinished series.

But those addicted to not only the Larsson trilogy but to Scandinavian thrillers and police dramas written by such authors as fellow Swede Henning Mankell and Iceland’s Arnaldur Indridason, will recognise and enjoy Daniel Alfredson’s skilful take on the Nordic genre.

Like the best of these books (many made into films or series and shown on SBS television) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest does well in convincing the viewer that political and moral corruption festers beneath the seemingly bland surface of Swedish society. It also makes real the larger than life villains that more properly belong to melodrama and graphic novels.

Chief amongst them are Lisbeth’s sociopathic father Zalachenko and her half-brother Niedermann (Mikael Spreitz), a blonde giant more like a Golem who is impervious to either physical or emotional pain. This trio, like comic book characters drawn from Greek tragedy, lies at the centre of the story, around which swirls a snake-pit of betrayal and sexual deviancy.

Nuanced characters, good acting and a lack of sensationalism despite the plot, places The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest several notches above its many Hollywood counterparts.

Particularly arresting is Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo, body piercings and Mohawk hair. She maintains her magnetic presence throughout the film, despite being sequestered in hospital or prison for much of the action, and having the fewest lines in the script. Similarly convincing are Michael Nykvist as Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth’s empathetic mentor and champion, and Erika Berger as Lena Endre, Mikael’s editor at Millenium, and his sometime lover.

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