A film review by Craig J. Koban November 26, 2010
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE
2010, R, 148 mins.
2010, R, 148 mins.
Lisbeth: Noomi Rapace / Mikael: Michael Nyqvist / Annika: Annika
Hallin / Holger: Per Oscarsson / Erika: Lena Endre
In Swedish, with English subtitles.
tough is Lisbeth Salander?
the final few minutes of the second film in the “Millennium Trilogy”, THE
GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, based in turn on the posthumously
published international best selling book by Stieg Larsson.
Lisbeth (the irreplaceable Noomi Rapace) has a fateful meeting with
a criminal mastermind that reveals to her that he is her long thought dead
father, after which he shoots her not once, not twice, but three times
(once in the head) and buried her alive with the assistance of her gigantic freak
of a half-brother (who happens to have a rare disorder that makes it
difficult for him to feel pain). She
does managed to escape her tomb, like a fierce and hostile angel of death,
and proceeded to put an axe into her dear ol’ papa while shooting several
rounds at her eerily mute and nearly impervious sibling.
The third film
that rounds off this trilogy, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST,
takes place literally right after these disturbing events:
Following the aforementioned (and very bloody) family reunion, Lisbeth
- with a bullet lodged in her
brain - is airlifted to a nearby hospital in Gothenburg to await life saving surgery.
This is perhaps the lowest that this character has even been during
all of the hellish ordeals that she has personally struggled through in
the previous film and the one that begat it, THE
GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: This bisexual, Goth-loving,
computer-hacking, and tenaciously headstrong heroine has been through
everything ranging from investigating a vile prostitution ring, fending
off evil Nazis
and child molesters, as well as being sexual abused by her parole handler
in ways that can only be described as barbaric.
Now she lays in a hospital bed at her most vulnerable and exposed:
what possible could this woman go through beyond this?
Well, the plucky
and intrepid doctors are able to remove the bullet from her skull and
ensure her recovery, but she is a shadow of her former self, confined to her
hospital bed with tubes and needles running through her.
Unfortunately, Lisbeth has far greater concerns than getting back
into fighting shape: the police intend on charging her with attempted
murder of her father and brother (the hulking presence of Mikael Spreitz),
even though it was clearly self defense.
Even worse is that there is an enigmatic and shadowy governmental
group known as "The Section" that wants to keep their decade’s old political secrets in check
by using Lisbeth as a scapegoat: they recruit Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders
Ahlbom Rosendahl), the same psychiatrist that treated Lisbeth after she
made her first attempt to murder her father when she was just a tender
12-years of age (attempting to murder one’s father is a habit that she
has not grown out of). It
soon becomes clear that Dr. Teleborian has his own-sorted history of
abusing poor Lisbeth (another old habit that does not die hard with the
men in her life) and he may have ulterior motives with wanting her back in
Lisbeth’s nightmarish problems is her former investigative colleague –
and one-night lover – Mikael Blomkvist (the rock steady and reliable
Michael Nyqvist), who is trying to uncover the secrets of the conspiracy
afoot to set up Lisbeth. He and his colleagues at Millennium Magazine are going to great lengths to see that Lisbeth leaves the hospital – and her
upcoming court room appearance – a free woman so that she will once and for all
be considered “legally responsible” for herself, but the more Mikael
and his assistants uncover about the real reasons why the Swedish
authorities want to bring Lisbeth down, the more pressure is put on them
to cease their investigation, or face dire consequences of their own.
Mikael does have some assistance in the form of a special
governmental task force that is convinced of Lisbeth's innocence – and by Lisbeth herself,
using a cell
phone while in the hospital - but it will take all of Mikael’s shrewd analytical and deductive wits to
get Lisbeth in the clear for good.
theme that is back in THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST is the
depiction of horrible, unethical, and twisted minded professional men that
use repressively brutal tactics to ensure that Lisbeth suffers as much as
possible. The male
antagonists presented in these films have always been juicily
sensationalistic and perverse, and this third film is no exception.
meeting Lisbeth’s sexually depraved parole officer in the first film and
then her deformed father and mutant-like brother, we are again introduced
to a slew of chauvinistic cretins that would like nothing better than to
rid the world of Lisbeth altogether: Rosendahl’s psychiatrist is so
smugly soft spoken and quietly sinister that you just know that he has his
own sickening proclivities lurking beneath his false façade of a
Mikael Spreitz returns again as Lisbeth’s Terminator-like brother
that seems to stop at nothing in order to avenge what she did to his
father. After all, even despicably evil
and homicidally monstrous giants can love their daddies.
Yet, it is
through this sickening festival of female torture and suffering that makes
Rapace’s Lisbeth one of the most intriguing and memorable of all of the
recent female movie characters.
This is a woman that has been anguished and battered in ways that
few woman have been in thrillers, yet she courageously perseveres and comes back
fighting with an unapologetic viciousness.
Sometimes, it is her own dark sensibilities and anti-social
attitude that gets her into trouble, but there is no mistaking her icy
resolve. Once we get settled
into THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST, Lisbeth has become a
battered-beyond-belief and emotionally wounded woman that is going into
battle one last time to see that her persecutors suffer the consequences.
When she finally
appears in court during the film’s positively engrossing and gratifying
climax, she has decked herself out like a female Travis Bickle from hell:
her hair is spiked into a tall Mohawk, black studded leather protrudes all
over her body, and buckles, spikes, jewelry, multiple body piercings,
and heavily applied eye liner adorn her like a protective body armor
against the elements. She
becomes a punk gladiator on a mission of legal revenge.
She will, for lack of a better phrase, not be fucked with again.
The courtroom sequence is well worth the price of admission, and
anyone familiar with Lisbeth’s past tactics (especially in the form of a
DVD that she created in the first film) know that they will bare
successful fruition against her enemies for the legal world to see.
The entire trilogy has been building to this point, and THE GIRL
WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST does not disappoint on this level.
however, that this entry suffers from one of the problems that affected the
previous film: The pairing of Mikael and Lisbeth in the first film – and
the way it dealt with the delectable ambiguities of their relationship –
was kind of vacant in the second entry and, once again, the two are
largely apart throughout much of this final chapter.
The stellar and unforced chemistry that they had in the first film
and the ways the screenplay death with their divergent methodologies of
investigative journalism made it insatiable watchable.
Throughout much of this film Lisbeth is either secured to a
hospital bed or is in police custody or is in a courtroom, so the
compelling dynamic the first film established is kind of gone.
Also, this film’s final scene between the pair ends with such a
deeply unsatisfying thud that it felt more like a deleted scene than it
did a fitting moment of closure for these two world weary souls.
Seriously, these two people have been through too much for the
lackluster final scene they are given here.
THE GIRL WHO
KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST is also far too bloated and long for its own
good: at 148 minutes, it takes forever for the plot to get to where it
wants to go (the final courtroom battle) and various subplots about “The
Section” are only vaguely developed.
Furthermore, the script does not divulge much more insight into the
main characters themselves: the story seems more content with closure than
it does with both embellishing characters and taking them into new areas
(for the most part, nothing else is truly learned about Lisbeth and
Mikael here beyond what we discovered in the past two films).
The main heroes of the film seem to be spinning their tires more
leisurely this time around as opposed to occupying a truly involving and
fresh mystery tale.
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS NEST is the least of the Millennium Trilogy of films, which I guess should not be all that surprising (Larsson himself died well before he could acceptably deal with the crucial Mikael/Lisbeth relationship arc and end it on a high note). This wrap-up chapter seems a bit too perceptibly expository in nature for its own well-being and the central conspiracy to be blown wide open here lacks the urgency and interest of the opening act. Yet, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST does succeed for showcasing the exhalant return - and summation - of Rapace’s Salander fighting opposite of the contemptible forces methodically scheming against her for the last seven-plus hours over three films. For that, this closing episode of the Millennium Trilogy modestly satisfies for giving a dazzling and ferociously empowered feminine protagonist her chance to seek out and achieve ultimate vengeance. Even though THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST is not the perfectly realized conclusion I was hoping for, I'm still thankful for taking the three-picture journey with Rapace's remarkable creation.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (2010) 1/2