Strolling to the Finish
Film adaptations of late author Stieg Larsson's "Millennium series" seem to be working backwards -- they start by pairing a potent protagonist couple, then proceed to separate them on individual tracks in the next story. By the time we get to the third and final entry, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, the more fascinating of the two, the guarded, talented, and versatile Lisbeth Salander, played by Noomi Rapace, spends most of the story constrained -- first in the hospital, then in prison. What fun is that?
The movie picks up right where the last one, The Girl Who Played with Fire, left off, and now the organization associated with the evil Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) is out to silence Salander because she knows too much and to deter our other hero, "Millenium" magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) from publishing the story about Salander's past as it involves them and Zalachenko. Eventually, this involves getting Salander convicted for the attempted murder of her father; therefore, while she's either in the hospital recovering or sitting behind bars awaiting the trial, she can only text her friends and hope for the best. Blomkvist gets to do most of the footwork, but his journey is quite straightforward here, and it all leads to a very tidy conclusion that leaves behind no loose ends.
By the time we finish up Hornets' Nest, the major themes of cruelty to women and decades-strong hidden corruption in Sweden feel diluted; within the narrative, they take on trite functionality and defer to genre conventions (the secret organization of old men and their threats; the lasciviously wicked and condescending psychologist; the heroic journalists and hackers; the unfazed somewhat superhuman murderous silent henchman). The movie is determined to let its story play out, however mundanely, and as far as wrap-ups go, it's serviceable, although one's level of satisfaction completely depends on what one has invested in the characters from having been through the previous entries. It's a pity Larsson passed away before he completed his next story -- by the end of Hornets' Nest, the series is ripe for a rebound.
(Released by Music Box Films and rated "R" for strong violence, some sexual material, and brief language.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.