The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

28 Jan

Title: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Daniel Alfredson
Ulf Rydberg and Jonas Frykberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre
MPAA Rating:
R, strong violence, some sexual material and brief language
147 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:


The last 2010 film I saw was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the last Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s insanely popular novels, the previous two entries of which were also released last year.

Now, the first film of the series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I thought was a formidable adaptation, and one that will prove to be real challenge to better for David Fincher, who’s currently working with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig on the American remake. That first film was really amazing to me, I gave it a strong A-, which will make it end up at 35th out of the 210 films I saw in 2010, and it introduced everyone to Noomi Rapace, who played the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander and who gave a riveting performance which I have ranked as the 10th best given by any leading actress in all of last year, and which we’ll all get to see much more off when she appears in the Sherlock Holmes sequel this year, and then in Ridley Scott’s insanely anticipated Prometheus next year.

The second film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, was still really really good, but not as jaw-dropping as the first one, I gave it a B+ grade, and it will end up as 53rd on my year-end rankings. And this one, the final installment, is much like that one, not up to the standard that first one set so high up, and still a tiny bit below the second one, but still a pretty solid film. The thing that let this third installment down was the fact that it didn’t have too many scenes in which Ms. Rapace interacted with Michael Nyqvist, and the chemistry between those two is what made the first one so incendiary, so taking that away from this one only hurt it.

And even though it’s quite slow, it still keeps us interested because we have spent two past films investing ourselves in these characters, and we go through the slower processes in this one still compelled by what’s being shown. And, moreover, even in the most talky scenes, which take place in a courtroom, Ms. Rapace is able to act up a storm, completely owning the screen and showing us why we remember her so damn well from her first outing as Lisbeth. Not to mention that, because Ms. Rapace is absent for much of the first half of the film, it makes her return during the final parts that much more welcome, especially considering she’s talking up a storm like I said.

I devoured the books quickly enough, and I really think these Swedish film adaptations did them justice, and considering the cast and crew the American adaptations have lined up, I’d say we’ll continue to chew up this stuff like hungry babies. How they get this one to end up is pretty cool, because all along it feels like what it is, a conclusion, working its way to tie up the loose ends, to leave you with some final thoughts.

I guess some would say that the best sequels are the ones that stand on their own, you can take any Bourne film and it will still feel amazing even if you haven’t seen the other ones, and even the Lord of the Rings films, you obviously need to know what went down in the previous one to really get them, but if you see them as stand alone features they’ll still really work. And to some extent I think that’s true, which is why, I guess, some may find fault with these films, the first one is an exquisite experience, but the second one and this one are too tied up to that one and they feel nowhere near complete if you haven’t experienced the others.

And while that’s true, I will say one thing, you have to dumb to see a Part II or Reloaded or Supremacy without checking the previous installments. If you go see this one without having seen the first two you may feel pretty lost in all the happenings, even with all the flashbacks we get. And because it’s such a slow film, you probably won’t care about the characters at all and feel as though the film was rather sucky, which, trust me, it isn’t.

But my guess is that even if you think the film isn’t that good, you’ll probably still feel pretty damn interested about Noomi Rapace and her embodiment of Lisbeth Salander, who is, in my opinion, the definitive heroine of the past decade. And that’s because these films, as much great plot as they may have, are all about the personality of their characters, what they say and think, that’s what really sucks us in. And how it’s shown by these actors, how Ms. Rapace decides to play out Lisbeth is especially incredible to see, and how it’s all shot and presented to us by a very fine European crew that it all works so well.

I haven’t yet seen the three films back-to-back, but I think that once I get to it it’ll be one seriously rad experience, the first one starts it off like crazy, a very cool mystery, the second one still fires on all cylinders, delivering a rad thriller with some action thrown in, and then this third one calms things down and ties the loose ends, behaving like one very neat conspiracy film with fireworks going off in those final courtroom scenes. And that’s really saying something, that’s saying that even if these films can’t stand alone that awesomely, they are one very cohesive work when put together, and that’s all we should want them to be.

Grade: B+


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