My relationship with Lisbeth Salander – self-proclaimed feminist, social-rights activist, and cyber terrorist – has been a rocky one. Our first outing (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) was much too macabre for my tastes, and Lisbeth’s obsessive need for revenge through sexual exploitation, though rather fitting, didn’t quite earn my heart. Of course, our second get-together (“The Girl Who Played with Fire”), was a much-needed improvement; however, I felt as though Lisbeth still needed some character. However, our last date, which is also known as “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” makes me almost sad that I have to bid adieu to a character that I had been so accustomed to hating.
Now all of the middle-aged women who ran to see Daniel Alfredson’s conclusion to the notorious Swedish film series, which is an adaptation of a series of novels penned by Stieg Larrson, can rest peacefully, as I, the only film critic in the world who matters, proudly proclaim that this long-awaited second sequel ends the series on a relatively high note — but do not mistake this as sudden forgiveness for the series’ earlier entries, which I must have been destined to hate.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” has Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist (whose last name I will never learn to pronounce correctly) return to their roles of Lisbeth Salander, Sweden’s own anti-hero, and Mikael Blomkvist, uncompromising owner of Millennium, a publication dedicated to exposing corruption. This time around, Lisbeth is rendered practically useless, as she’s either bed-ridden after being shot in the head by her half-brother, Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), or simply imprisoned for a plethora of crimes, which Mikael tries to relinquish in a lengthy exposé in the latest issue of Millennium. However, things aren’t quite that easy, as all of Lisbeth’s enemies resurface for one last time, of which includes Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom), her childhood psychiatrist who happens to be pedophilic and tortuous, Niedermann, who is on a murderous rampage, and on a lesser note, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), her father, who dies fairly early in the film.
The reason I enjoyed this installment more than any other is because Ulf Ryberg, who wrote the screenplay for the film, finally adds a sense of urgency. In “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” there is finally a sense of danger for Mikael, who receives death threats and is the center of blackmail attempts, and Lisbeth, who has obviously made a lot of people angry and thus is wanted either dead or deemed unfit for society. But what’s more important is that Lisbeth is finally a fully fleshed out character. We finally care about her because unlike the other installments, she isn’t just another symbol anymore, no; she’s a human-being, who has had the courage to challenge the immoral thus saving a lot of people in the process, which has ultimately led her to endangering herself.
“It’s like a classic Greek tragedy,” says Dr. Teleborian in the film’s second-act, and how I couldn’t agree more, but for the most part, I welcomed the idiosyncrasies and almost outlandish characters with open-arms. Although, those expecting an entirely plausible stand-alone drama should not see this film, as it’s absolutely mandatory that you either have seen the first two films or have read the books . . . but who reads anymore?
It all concludes with an immensely satisfying climax, which I for one, could not shake for several hours. This ending does an incredible job at connecting every single detail together, no matter how superfluous it may have seemed at first, and most importantly, had me cheering for Lisbeth, even though it was pretty hard to admit at first.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” may be the last time we’ll see Noomi Rapace in this break-out role, but it’s also the best of the film series, an immaculate mix of entertainment and social commentary. I guess nobody expected this from me, huh?
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