The first movie in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” was a mystery thriller with great characters, good action and shadowy undertones. The second was an action flick that abandoned character building in favor of sex and violence—and plenty of it. And the final film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (released an impossibly short few months after the middle film), has abandoned character building, sex and violence in favor of talking, injury rehabilitation and courtroom drama.
The film begins with a recap of the closing moments of The Girl Who Played With Fire, as goth pixie Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is helicoptered to the hospital, because there’s nothing more cyberpunk than shaving your head to facilitate bullet removal. Also returning is co-main character and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyquist), who is helping Lisbeth, despite not having shared a scene with her for nearly three on-screen hours.
What follows is a monotonous snoozer, a film in which the bad guys are best described as The League of Extraordinarily Old Gentlemen. In stark contrast to the action-packed second film, throughout Hornet’s Nest , the pedestrians barely break into a run and everyone driving a car politely obeys the speed limit.
The puzzles, riddles and crime solving are, of course, two movies gone at this point. Instead, screenwriter Ulf Ryberg (best known for penning a bunch of Swedish mini-series) is too busy unknotting overly braided plotlines, all while under a tight deadline. Director Daniel Alfredson (who also directed the second film in the trilogy) was going for Michael Clayton and wound up with a two and a-half hour version of “Stockholm Law.”
To put it in Thanksgiving terms, Hornet’s Nest is insanely bloated, near overflowing with turducken and a little sleepy. At the Millennium family reunion, it’s definitely the black sheep, but just like creepy Uncle Gus, it’s still coming to Thanksgiving dinner to regale you with predictable but boring stories.
There’s nothing wrong with the cinematography or the look of the film — all of which is adequate. But Hornet’s Nest is an outright betrayal of its characters. If you’ve invested the time to see the first two movies (nearly six hours), no bad review will dissuade you from finishing the series.
One speck of hope for fans is that David Fincher ( Se7en, Fight Club ) has signed to direct the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Maybe he’ll be the Billy Bob Thornton to our Halle Berry and make us, once again, feel good.