Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The (2010)
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Plot: Lisbeth is recovering in a hospital and awaiting trial for three murders when she is released. Mikael must prove her innocence. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is plotting her own revenge against the people who put her in this situation.
Rating: NC16 strong violence, some sexual material, and brief language.
Finally, the concluding installment to the much lauded “Millennium Trilogy” by writer Stieg Larsson hits the big screen. Directed by Daniel Alfredson, who also helmed the second film The Girl Who Played with Fire (2010), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest brings to a dreary end a screen trilogy that offered so much potential for storytelling brilliance, but wastes the material away with substandard screenwriting and direction.
Niels Arden Oplev has set the bar so high with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010) that it is very tough to do two sequels that are able to match the quality of the first. In my view, Hornet’s Nest is the weakest of the trio. Its sprawling length of two-and-a-half hours does little to alleviate the constant expositional droning that the characters find themselves engaging in. Part courtroom drama, part suspense-thriller, it is the latter that the film sorely lacks.
Alfredson’s film plays out like a dull and laborious extension of a cliché crime story involving a rape victim, and the consequential search for justice. It is not the story that I am displeased about, it is its execution. There is simply not enough suspense during scenes of interrogation and in court, in which verbal accusations are thrown about without the fervor of a tense debate. Moreover, the film takes ages to reach its most important segment – the trial of Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) – that any anticipation of it would have already been dissipated.
There are questions as to whether the film editing should be tighter. There is no sense of urgency, and coupling with the film’s predictable execution of its narrative, it appears to run out of steam after the halfway mark. The lack of action entertainment, or at least scenes that are at least averagely thrilling does little to help build up the excitement.
The true test comes in the relatively tense sequence at the end which shows Lisbeth entering a dark, vacant workshop, oblivious that her “killer” from Played With Fire is lurking in the shadows. Thrills-wise, it is probably the film’s most accomplished sequence (that’s not saying much actually), but one feels that it has come too late to offer anything more than a last-minute grasp at the viewer’s fading attention.
Hornet’s Nest is a second-rate sequel to an average film, which in turn is an average sequel to a one of the year’s best mystery-thrillers. A pity that the trilogy has to end without the expected bang that many of us have anticipated. The biggest mistake, I feel, is the unfortunate change in director from Oplev to Alfredson, resulting in tonal and pacing inconsistencies that still remain unaddressed in the third film. Now let’s pray hard that lightning does not strike twice, that David Fincher (Seven, 1995; Zodiac, 2007) who is directing the remake of Dragon Tattoo, will follow suit with two extraordinary sequels.GRADE: C- (5.5/10 or 2.5 stars)
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