After the close to awful second instalment, we finally get a conclusion to the strange and often tedious tale of computer-hacker Lisbeth Salander. The first film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was in my view a modern masterpiece; a gripping, beautifully constructed thriller that would, in a perfect world, receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The Girl Who Played with Fire followed soon after. It was clunky, lifeless and extremely dull. Where the first film was vibrant and cinematic, this was as flat as a low budget late-night TV drama. So now we get to The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – the last time we will see the fabulous Noomi Repace as ‘The Girl’.
The novels upon which the series is based have been a phenomenon, and all continue to regularly feature in the paperback fiction chart. The Swedish films are already in the stages of being remade by Sony, with David Fincher helming the first movie, set for a Christmas 2011 release. If you read my review of Let Me In recently, you’d know that I generally do not approve of remakes that cater for American audiences who cannot be bothered to read subtitles. But in the case of these films, I may be a little more tolerant. Director Daniel Alfredson, responsible for this film and the previous catastrophe, has turned a series pumping with potential into something rather tiresome. I’m hoping Fincher will work magic with the source texts in ways Alfredson has never managed to achieve.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest picks up the action a matter of minutes after …Played with Fire finished. Lisbeth Salander is being flown by helicopter to hospital after being nearly killed at the hands of her severely burnt and psychopathic father. She is later arrested for his attempted murder (she mashed his head with a sharp instrument in self-defence), and prepares to stand trial. Meanwhile her chum and occasional bed-buddy Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, fights her corner at the offices of his controversial magazine ‘Millennium’. There are far too many back-stories, subplots and subtleties to go into in this review, particularly if you haven’t seen/read the other two. It’s easier just to say that the film has a pretty hard task on its hands in explaining the many narrative layers involving political conspiracy, child abuse and the now infamous bisexual goth suspected-murderess computer hacker Salander.
The courtroom scenes lack the drive and energy emotive and potentially explosive material such as this deserves. Salander’s past is pretty gruelling, but the monotonous and unimaginative way her story is investigated by the lawyers, judge and press is about as intellectually riveting as an episode of Antiques Roadhsow. If you want compelling legal drama, you’d be better off digging out some back-episodes of Judge John Deed.
But after a long wait ‘The Girl’s story comes to an almost satisfactory end, and the finale features a mildly exciting fight with one of the series’ best villains. Sadly it isn’t enough to compensate for the previous less-interesting two hours of mediocre storytelling and uninspired directing.
Good: Noomi Repace is incredible.
Bad: By the end of the film, it’s very easy to stop caring who did what, why and when.