Film Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest ends the Millennium trilogy much the way it began; like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the film moves at a sedentary pace for the most part, and lacks credibility as a serious crime thriller.

Lisbeth Salander is recovering from her multiple injuries in hospital when she is charged with the attempted murder of her father. Mikael Blomkvist and his sister Annika face an uphill battle to defend Lisbeth against the charge, while others would be only too happy to see her committed. To complicate matters, Niedermann is still at large…

There is little action in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest until the final quarter. For the most part, the duration is filled with Blomkvist and his associates struggling to find evidence to help Lisbeth, and The Section attempting to silence her and cover past discretions. Given the numerous characters invested in the case, there is a lot of exposition before Lisbeth’s story progresses.

Part of the problem of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is that for a large part of the film the central character is incapacitated. Either stuck in hospital or in a jail cell awaiting trial, Lisbeth is out of the action, waiting for Blomkvist to find evidence to clear her name. Lisbeth was so central to the investigation in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and pivotal to the action in The Girl Who Played with Fire. Here, she is demoted to helpless victim for much of the film, relying on others to fight for her.

Despite her portrayal as a strong and independent woman in the first two films, Lisbeth’s fate lies in the hands of male hero Blomkvist. Stieg Larsson and screenwriter Ulf Ryberg have given a rather archaic depiction of genders in these films. Crimes are solely perpetrated by men, with women and children frequently victims. Despite Lisbeth’s independence, it is ultimately a man who swoops in to save the day. Men are both heroes and villains, while women always have to rely on men.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is almost two and a half hours long, and unfortunately this duration is really felt. There is such a long build up to the court case and the Niedermann storyline, that when each narrative reaches its climax both feel rushed as a result. Furthermore, the two protagonists’ personalities start to grate in this film. Lisbeth appears uncooperative and ungrateful to those who are clearly trying hard to help her, while Blomkvist appears cruelly indifferent towards the threats to his co-workers.

Not a fantastic crime series my any stretch, the series is riddled with plot holes. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a perfunctory ending to the patchy trilogy. It will be interesting to see how David Fincher fares with Larsson’s material.