Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest *** ½
Directed by:
Daniel Alfredson.
Written By: Ulf Ryberg based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.
Starring: Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Erikson), Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl (Dr. Peter Teleborian), Micke Spreitz (Ronald Niedermann), Georgi Staykov (Alexander Zalachenko), Mirja Turestedt (Monica Figuerola), Niklas Falk (Edklinth), Hans Alfredson (Evert Gullberg), Lennart Hjulström (Fredrik Clinton), Jan Holmquist (Hallberg), Niklas Hjulström (Ekström), Johan Kylén (Inspector Jan Bublanski), Tanja Lorentzon (Sonja Modig), Donald Högberg (Jerker Holmberg), Magnus Krepper (Hans Faste), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij).

The Millennium books by the late Stieg Larsson have entered pop culture like few books not written by Dan Brown seem to these days. And while some have dismissed the novels as more airport junk, not unlike Brown, I have to disagree. Yes, they are thrillers that move at a breakneck pace – but behind all that material are two characters that are complex and interesting on their own. Take away the thriller material from Robert Langdon, and you have nothing left. Take away the thrills for Blomkvist and Salander, and you still have characters you would want to get to know. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was the third, and least of the three novels, and has now been made into the third, and least of the three movies. I think the reason why it isn’t quite as satisfying as the first two installments is because The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a self contained thriller, and The Girl Who Played with Fire expanded on the characters whereas this third installment feels more like a long afterword for the second novel – not a lot of “new” stuff happens, but the story wasn’t quite over. As such, the thriller elements have been toned down – and yet both the book and the movie remained fascinating to me.

This third installment is the only one where you really need to know what happened before to understand it. You could have picked up the second installment, and after a little bit of initial confusion been fine, but this one if you don’t know the back-story of Lisbeth, her father, her Neanderthal half brother and everything that happened out there on that farm to end the second film, you’d simply be lost. Larsson, and now the filmmakers, do a good job at making this installment as exciting as possible – introducing a secret government agency trying to cover their own tracks – but this movie does have a lot less action in it than the first two did. This movie is a slow burn of a film leading up to the final confrontation in court between Lisbeth Salander and her accusers. But amazingly, even at two and half hours in length – the film doesn’t drag.

In find though, that other than that I am at a loss for what else to say about the movie. If you are interested in the film, you obviously know the story behind it, so a plot summary seems redundant. And the film features the same great work in front of the camera by Michael Nyqvist as Blomkvist and especially Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. Rapace has done a remarkable job this whole series – taking a character who is very introverted, who likes to show no weakness or even much emotion to anyone – and yet making her fascinating and complex – not just a zombie. The film is directed by Daniel Alfredson, who also directed the second movie but not the first, and his visual style is adequate – nothing too fancy, but it gets the job done, and the pace is still lightning quick. I did love the final confrontation scene – that I’m sure actress Annika Hallin has been waiting for because she finally gets a chance to let loose. And Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl continues the series’ great casting job with the villainous roles as the evil shrink who helped to railroad Salander when she was a 12 year old.

The film, like the first two, gets the job done. They are extremely faithful to the source material – perhaps trimming things here and there, but the main thrust of the plot remains almost completely intact. I remain very interested in what David Fincher does with this series in the upcoming English remakes. If he simply does what the directors of these Swedish films have done – and essentially film the novels in a straight forward fashion – then it will be a missed opportunity. Because as good as these three Swedish movies have been – and they have been excellent – I think there is more than can be done with them than we’ve so far. And David Fincher, one of the best directors in the world right now, is a perfect filmmaker to do it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review!! I think the entire trilogy is incredible and a great story with such a strong female heroine...