The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest
Steig Larsson’s family is claiming that he wrote a fifth book, a sequel to The Millenium Trilogy. The series was supposed to be made up of ten parts. Larsson supposedly skipped book four because five was going to be more fun to write. With this knowledge, it’s easy to wonder if The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest will really be the last we see of Lisabeth Salander, and her unlikely knight in shining armor. Either way, director Daniel Alfredson took the film as an opportunity to wrap up any and all loose ends. Unfortunately, this means Hornet’s Nest is about fifty minutes longer than it should have been.
Alfredson also directed The Girl Who Played With Fire, and neither of the his two entries are a strong as the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Neils Arden Oplev. But Hornet’s Nest is most certainly the weakest in characters and plot.
A large portion of the beginning of the film literally just moves from hospitalized person, to hospitalized person. It’s an extended series of shots of people in hospital beds. And while film three she should certainly continue where two left off, Lisabeth having taken several bullets, one to the head, and her having put an axe in her father, I think that the filmmakers had an obligation to keep this thriller, a thriller.
After the hospital stays, which are dramatized by the plottings of several, very, very old men (literally just a few steps away from death by heart attack, or kidney failure) to kill Salander. Their ailments save our unorthodox heroine from premature death, but it only serves to keep her safe until her trial where her institutionalizations, and violent actions against her father and half-brother may put her away forever.
The trial, and preparation for it, are the most unbelievable aspects of this film. Lisabeth refuses to answer a single question during any and all depositions, she dresses even more flamboyantly than before, even dawning the eye makeup of Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange. A nod, among many, that Lisabeth isn’t so much an individual any more, but a pale reflection of her idea of what you shouldn’t be. This is, instead of what we should see, the result of years of abuse and being trapped in the system. Ultimately, the trial comes down to men versus women. I’m not sure why Larsson hated men so much, but he did. Lisabeth, and her lawyer (the very pregnant sister of her journalist friend Michael Blomkvist) sit there, representing victimhood and maternity, across from a probably well-meaning, but dumb prosecutor, and a male doctor lying about her mental state. He also happens to be a pedophile and rapist. As if the audience didn’t get it, they’re treated to flashes of Lisabeth being raped in the first film, again, by a man who should have been her advocate.
Of course, this is the moment that the film, and virtually the whole series was meant to lead up to: where all the lies are exposed, and the perpetrators are punished. Alfredson was extremely conscious that he was in charge of the money shot. And he milked it for well over a half an hour. A half an hour that could have been removed and the film wouldn’t have missed a beat. Remember in The Dark Knight when you thought things were coming to a close, but there was actually another hour left? Same thing here. After the trial (which results in the only way anyone would expect), there’s still quite a bit film left that really, except for the most ardent fans of the trilogy, seems totally superfluous, and self-indulgent.
In the end, there’s a certain amount of gratitude owed to Hornet’s Nest for wrapping up all those loose ends. But, in turn, it’s owed a certain amount of frustration for going about it in such a clumsy and lethargic manner. If there is a fourth movie, let’s hope Alfredson won’t be in charge.