Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Directed by Daniel Alfredson.
2009. Rated R, 147 minutes, Swedish.
Noomi Rapace
Michael Nyqvist
Lena Endre
Annika Hallin
Anders Ahlbom
Micke Spreitz
Georgi Staykov

After playing with fire, the girl with the dragon tattoo kicks the hornet’s nest. The hornet’s nest is really a super secret organization of cranky elderly dudes clinging to life with brittle, spotted hands. As gathered from the prior movie in the series, these guys protect our heroine’s father, a lunatic Soviet defector as a matter of national security. In an effort to maintain that secrecy, they actually do everything they possibly can to out themselves. Nice goin’, fellas.

Evidently, the one thing our bad guys believe will ensure that they remain safely in the shadows is locking up “the girl,” Lisbeth Salander (Rapace). Following the events of The Girl Who Played with Fire, she opens chapter three in a hospital bed after having a few bullets dug out of her. She’s also still wanted for three murders and now the attempted murder of dear old, psychopathic dad. “The Section,” as our wannabe clandestine and very grumpy old men come to be known, are trying to see to it that she’s convicted of these crimes. Meanwhile, super reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) attempts to ride to her rescue. He even guilts his sister (Hallin) into taking the case pro-bono.

The problems with this installment of the Millenium trilogy quickly come into focus. Here, we have a movie about a character who, over the course of two previous movies, has already proven she can be endlessly compelling. However, she’s not nearly as watchable when given nothing to do. She spends the first half of the movie confined to her hospital room while others work on her behalf. The latter half, she’s either sitting in a courtroom, or jail cell. In lieu of all the activity and intrigue of its predecessors, Hornet’s Nest treats us to long stretches of Lisbeth refusing to speak.

What we’re left with is a less than thrilling spy flick. Blomkvist is constantly chasing sources, or trying to get information to Lisbeth. The old guys make and botch plans. The gigantic blonde guy, whom we found out in Fire is Lisbeth’s half-brother, roams the countryside much like Frankenstein’s monster. For some unexplained reason, he’s kidnapped some woman, throws her out of a moving car and apparently goes back for her because he has her again, later. At least, I think it’s the same woman. Either way, it doesn’t matter because she just as inexplicably disappears. Sadly, none of this is particularly exciting to watch.

Viewing Hornet’s Nest becomes tedious work. The main culprit is something that happens way back in the first movie that we’ve never been allowed to forget for even one second. It provides us with such an overwhelming clue about how this is going to play out we’re simply waiting for it to be presented. Once it is, it can’t help be anything but anti-climactic.

Hornet’s Nest is a wasted opportunity. The promise was there for this to complete a great saga and catapult this franchise into the same stratosphere as some of the great cinematic trilogies. Instead of going out in a blaze of glory, it ends in a resounding thud. After two wonderful thrillers, we get a hybrid espionage/courtroom drama that’s not good at either. In the mean time, it’s best character, the one who’s fate hangs in the balance is pretty much made to go to her room like a child waiting for her parents to come to a decision about what punishment is to be handed out. Because of this, the movie drags and then reaches a conclusion we already figured out about ten minutes in. Imagine going to a basketball game, watching your favorite player drop 50 in the first three quarters and then be benched for the entire fourth quarter even though the game is still a close one. That’s the feeling this one gave me.

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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