The final act to any good story leaves you satisfied having going through the journey and may leave you wanting more at the very end. It builds upon what the audience already knows, increases the tension already in the air, introduces some new elements and then sums up everything that has gone on before. With some more or less minor quibbles, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” does this for the third movie installment of Stieg Larsson’s book series.
Picking up almost exactly where “The Girl Who Played with Fire” left off, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) has been shot, buried alive, dug herself out of her own shallow grave to attack her father with an axe after he put her there, and both have been whisked away to the same hospital in critical conditions. Lisbeth is charged with his attempted murder and will have to account for her actions—past and present—in court. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) pushes his Millennium staff to publish an issue to prove her innocence and in the process are threatened by shadow government figures that want to keep Lisbeth’s past and her connections to them hidden at all costs. There’s a lot more going including a giant psychopathic albino that can’t feel physical pain, a corrupt and deviant head of a psychiatric ward and Blomkvist’s sister who represents Lisbeth in court whether she wants the help or not.
It’s a lot to take in, but the first 30 minutes of “Hornet’s Nest” make up for the last 60 minutes of “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” It’s a constant crosscutting to give the audience the information that we need to follow along and feel more suspense when we know information the characters don’t. The brisker pace is a much welcome change from the pace of previous movie. Also welcome is the focus of the tasks at hand. Since everything seems to hinge on saving Lisbeth, we are more invested in all the strands of evidence flying around. And much like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the plotline is fairly centralized; despite how complex the twists get, the overall presentation holds together well and the audience remains invested in throughout. This also allows Lisbeth and Blomkvist to be completely separated for the majority of the film as in the previous film without the feeling of being removed from their situation, which was another problem of the previous film. Rapace shows Lisbeth can be powerful even while standing still. Nyqvist shows how opportunistic Blomkvist can be even if for all the right reasons. Both are true to what started in “Dragon Tattoo,” while broadening our knowledge of them.
The problems with “Hornet’s Nest” are mainly structural. As the narrative thread is a series of growing conspiracies, the film is procedural in nature which works considering the thriller of various types involved and easy segues into the investigative models. It’s when we get into the court procedural portion of the movie does it start to slow down. The first portion sparks when we see Lisbeth in full punk regalia and she finally handles the prosecutor herself in an inspiring fashion. The second half of the trial drags on the movie and you suddenly feel the pace slipping again. While this movie isn’t as off pace as the “Fire,” the movie quickly feels like it won’t end. It also doesn’t help that it has a couple of false endings—even though they satisfy—that slow it more. However these are more quibbles to an otherwise good end to the trilogy.
Local note: the only place in the state to catch “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”is at the West Newton Cinema (1296 Washington St, West Newton, MA); two showings each day. Catch it while it’s still in theaters.