Film Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest  |  Director Daniel Alfredson  |  Score: 3.3

So, Lisbeth Salandar, we are finally at the last of your adventures. I can’t say I’m altogether sorry to see them go, at least the cinematic editions. The two previous Girl films have been equal parts asinine, uneven, brutal and irritating, but they didn’t come close to being as dull and devoid of drama as this final installment.

This film begins closely after the close of The Girl Who Played With Fire, wherein our diminutive, punky heroine, Lisbeth Salandar (Noomi Rapace) charged into her evil father’s compound, tried to kill him with an axe, got shot and beaten on, and watched as her equally evil half-brother slithered away from the authorities. The first hour of the film is mostly devoted to scenes of Lisbeth recuperating in a hospital bed just down the hallway from her wretched father, and many, many old men dressed in formalwear, meeting at various junctures and planning to silence her forever. We are again asked to pay attention to the imbecilic quasi-journo stylings of Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), as arrogant and insufferable as ever. He spends the entire film “gathering” evidence — though, in actuality, getting other people to procure the essential documents — and sporting his goddamn black leather coat all over the city.

The plot continues on in this manner for some time. Lisbeth is due for an attempted murder trial — one the evil organization that backed her father hopes will leave her recommitted to a mental hospital — so, it’s up to her lawyer, Michael’s sister, to stave off the evil doers and free her gamine client. So, then, the second half of this interminable gumbo involves her trial, and all the good things that eventually happen for her.

If there’s one unifying thread to the films, it’s the filmmakers insistence in streamlining and dumbing down all the particulars in order to move the story along as quickly as possible. The thing is, the result of all this gerrymandering only serves to show the idiocy of their interpretations. Thus, the evil octogenarian organization can employ only a geriatric assassin (who can’t even open Lisbeth’s hospital door for cripes’ sake), or a couple of dunderheaded “snipers,” who try to shoot their targets by walking into a busy restaurant and producing a gun long before they get to the table. The criminal trial, filled to the brim with hidden evidence produced at the last possible second, is equally inane.

Perhaps the greatest trick of all is to present Michael’s magazine, Millennium, as an essential bastion of journalistic truth and a trusted source of information for the entire country. As much lip service is played to computers and cell phones and Lisbeth’s uncanny hacking abilities, in the world of The Girl, it’s only a printed magazine that carries sufficient weight for Michael’s journalistic ambitions.


Piers Marchant is a Philly-based writer and editor, and the EIC (and film critic) for magazine ( His reviews can be found on and his tumblr blog, Sweet Smell of Success.  You can also follow him on twitter @kafkaesque83.

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