Stieg Larsson’s millennium trilogy stings to the very end
By T.T. Stern-Enzi
Rating: R Grade: A-
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling series of thrillers, recuperates from near fatal wounds, inflicted in the previous installment (“The Girl Who Played With Fire”) by her father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), Sweden’s prized Soviet defector, and her half-brother, Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), a seemingly impervious killing machine (yet, curiously not the nimblest of thinkers). Salander also awaits trial for the attempted murder of her father and an underground covert cell within the Swedish government intends to make sure that she dies before trial, ends up with a lengthy prison sentence, or gets locked up in a mental hospital for the rest of her life.
Fortunately for Salander, she’s got the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) in her corner, along with his progressive magazine partner-in-crime Erika Berger (Lena Endre) and sister Annika (Annika Hallin) who happens to be a top-notch attorney. Blomkvist and Salander teamed up in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” the title that kicked off this exhilarating international sensation. Salander felt like a cross between Jason Bourne and Hannibal Lector with a decidedly more alternative bend than any of Angelina Jolie’s thrilling action heroines. She’s a bisexual computer hacker with a photographic memory, Asberger symptomology and real issues with men who abuse women. While she ably defends herself against her abusive court-appointed guardian in the first film (just prior to hooking up with Blomkvist for the real adventure there), it is not until Fire that audiences discover the depth of her problems with men, going all the way back to big bad daddy Zalachenko. And “Hornet’s Nest” brings the showdown to its intriguing conclusion.
All of the conspiratorial plots and actions against Salander and her would-be cohorts will likely remind viewers of a less-frenzied version of “The Bourne Ultimatum.” There, the focus is on a homecoming of sorts for Bourne (Matt Damon), as he discovers his true identity and the depravity of the covert higher-ups who gave birth to the program that created him. Even though much of the action in this “Nest” swirls around the hospital-bound Salander, we never forget that she is the gravitational center of this universe. Rapace, while far more shocking in appearance as Salander, maintains a hard-edge reminiscent of Damon’s work in the Bourne films and Daniel Alfredson, the director of the last two films in the trilogy, forgoes the seizure-inducing jump cuts of Paul Greengrass, in order to highlight Rapace’s laser-like intensity.
It is a match made in European movie heaven as “Hornet’s Nest” rebounds from the lulling conventionality of the second installment (which faced the near impossible task of following the explosive narrative jolt of “Dragon Tattoo”). Every plotline and nearly every character introduced throughout the series plays a role in the conclusion here, which allows for most of the drama and comeuppance to take place in a courtroom as if the series was always intended to be a legal procedural. But, have no fear because “Hornet’s Nest” delivers more than enough stinging blows to keep audiences reeling through the final bell.
Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at T.T.Stern-Enzi@daytoncitypaper.com