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

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Girl Photo Credit: Courtesy of Music Box Films

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
2.5 stars
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin

As the popularity of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy snowballs — the colorful paperbacks are now ubiquitous on subway rides — the Swedish screen adaptations have lost their luster. The first film was action-packed and brainy, but in this final 150-minute installment, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” inertia gets the better of the once-thrilling trilogy.

The movie opens with Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) in the hospital after her father beat her and buried her alive (see “The Girl Who Played With Fire”). She’s also charged with attempted murder for axing Daddy in the head (he survived). As she’s ferried from hospital room to jail cell to courtroom, her one-time lover and journalist sidekick, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), is running around Stockholm, researching the bombshell story that will clear her name. Lead by lead, risking his safety, he unravels the identities of Lisbeth’s enemies, a covert and possibly government-sanctioned fraternity of old, evil white men who were complicit in her sexual abuse.

Rapace is the sullen, defiant and feminine face of this trilogy, and she’s also the most kick-ass character. So when she spends most of the movie confined to a hospital bed or jail cell, the film — no surprise — suffers. She wreaks some hacker havoc via a smuggled PDA, but most of the detective work falls to Blomkvist. His journo badassery is absorbing as far as average potboiler thrillers go, but it’s Lisbeth’s teeming revenge that has always been the heart of this trilogy. With her on the sidelines, an inordinate amount of screen time — yet, strangely, not enough — dwells on the cat-and-mouse moves of her crotchety foes.

There’s been some grumbling about David Fincher’s decision to adapt the books for American audiences. While these Swedish versions are fine for run-of-the-mill thrillers, I, for one, can’t wait to see what Fincher does with the stories.

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