Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' BBC's 100 Greatest American Films List Includes 'The Dark Knight,' 'Heaven's Gate,' 'Chinatown,' 'Tree Of Life,' And More BBC's 100 Greatest American Films List Includes 'The Dark Knight,' 'Heaven's Gate,' 'Chinatown,' 'Tree Of Life,' And More Ava DuVernay Says She Turned Down 'Black Panther' Because There Might've Been Too Much Compromise Ava DuVernay Says She Turned Down 'Black Panther' Because There Might've Been Too Much Compromise The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

Review: 'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest' Completes Tepid Crime Trilogy

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist October 27, 2010 at 7:04AM

Oh, Noomi Rapace, how you’ve dazzled us. Through three Stieg Larsson-inspired adventures, you’ve jumped, screamed, sexed and hacked your way into filmgoers’ imaginations, even if they were only art house patrons. Your angular cheekbones, androgynous chin and bouncy night-black hair have undergone several transformations for the sake of this colorful narrative, a three-movie epic involving Neo-Nazis and their modern-day positions of power. Through all this, you have persevered.
1


Oh, Noomi Rapace, how you’ve dazzled us. Through three Stieg Larsson-inspired adventures, you’ve jumped, screamed, sexed and hacked your way into filmgoers’ imaginations, even if they were only art house patrons. Your angular cheekbones, androgynous chin and bouncy night-black hair have undergone several transformations for the sake of this colorful narrative, a three-movie epic involving Neo-Nazis and their modern-day positions of power. Through all this, you have persevered.

Rapace's steely star turn is indeed the best reason to suffer through these movies, a tepid trilogy of debasement and murder that has somehow captured the imagination of Hollywood - the first English-language installment hits next Thanksgiving, the holidays being an appropriate time for murder, rape and Neo-Nazis. As Lisbeth Salander, she’s been transformed from timid computer geek to avenging action hero, even rising from the grave in the last installment. Unfortunately, at the start of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest,” she still suffers from the repercussions of those events, bedridden with brain damage after more than a few blows to the head.


In the meantime, intrepid reported Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) continues his crusade for, ahem, justice. His Millennium periodical, staffed with a “Mission: Impossible” -like skeleton crew, remains hard at work on a story that severely discredits Salander’s abusers. In the “Dragon Tattoo” series, feminine paranoia is warranted: all men are out to dominate you and suppress your voice. Blomkvist hopes that his findings will incriminate not only Salander’s abusive freakshow father, who still carries the haunted house burns from being attacked by a preteen Lizbeth, but also the Mengele-ish psychiatrist that repeatedly raped and beat her as a child over a three-year hospital stay.

'Hornet’s Nest' is less accomplished than the previous films. Gone is the fake-prestige gloss of the first film, as this is closer to the second film’s TV-bound theatrics. But the film has a taste for the sensational that the second film proudly showcased, marred by an insincere dedication to literalism that keeps the whole outlandish story grounded in some implausible reality. There is one moment that rises above this boilerplate silliness. It’s a triumph of both character and theme when Salander finally makes her way into the courtroom to testify, clad in punk rock regalia: black leather, ghost-white makeup and a gravity-defying Mohawk.

What’s peculiar is that the one moment Lisbeth is given to take her story back, to finally control her narrative, is blunted. The peacock struts its feathers, but to what cause? A large portion of 'Hornet’s Nest' gives way to courtroom dramatics highlighted by Salander’s poker face, as she watches others bat around the circumstances of her victimization like a tennis match. The audience has sat through this character being raped, beaten, stabbed, shot-at, tortured and buried alive. Her suffering is rewarded with suited histrionics from legal teams prosecuting more evil white men.

A tacked-on action coda doesn’t go far in helping this disturbed super heroine find peace. Instead, we have to attach ourselves to Blomkvist. For the third straight movie, Blomkvist is a laughable protagonist, puffy in a way that presumes Gerard Butler ate Daniel Craig and unassuming in a way that protagonists are when they have to be not masculine enough to throw more than one convincing punch, but not so weak that they are seen in a vulnerable position for long. Blomkvist is indebted to Salander for how she saved his life in the first film, though she’s always been more of a thankless sidekick; here, she is upgraded to damsel in distress. What goes unspoken between them remains a mystery, considering their once-sexual relationship and the fact that, since she is the only woman in the films not outwardly affectionate towards him, that he seems to be waiting for a belated thank you.

The overarching story thus far revolves around the avarice and cruelty of old white men. And yet, 'Hornet’s Nest' ends with a sense of closure, as Lisbeth is finally forced to rely on the system that once discarded her. This is despite the fact that Larsson, who passed away years ago, intended the three books to be part of a 10-book narrative further considering the ties between Salander and Blomkvist. The suggestion that Salander may find herself in trouble again is no less ridiculous than the mute albino kick boxer without a pain threshold who showed up in the second film and returns here, Bond villain-style. Which is to say that there’s a certain pulp appeal to this ridiculousness, despite filmmakers’ efforts to ground the Salander story as a modern crime epic. In other words, “Dragon Tattoo In Space” and “The Girl That Rode A Pterodactyl” are calling. [C-]

This article is related to: Actresses, Foreign Films, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Swedish Version)


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates