Today: April 20, 2024

Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, The

Every Guardian reader’s
favourite kickboxing, lesbian Goth avenger is back in the third and least of
Steig Larsson’s
Millennium
trilogy,
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest. And she’s just as mopey as ever.

Some films are bulletproof. It doesn’t matter how bad the film is, it doesn’t matter
what you say about it, people, in their droves, are still going to slap their hard-earned down at the Brothel of Cinematic Delights ticket booth; they’re going to buy a ticket, some industrial-strength
cheesy nachos and a bucket of Coke, and they’re going to sacrifice 149 buttock-numbing
minutes of their life to see it. There’s a great many things wrong with The
Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

(poorly paced, poorly executed, a distinct lack of hornets or indeed wasps
of any stripe…
) but let’s face it,
if you’ve read the Steig Larsson potboilers and you’ve seen the previous two
films, nothing I say is going to put you off seeing it. So let’s stick to the
film’s good points. Well, it’s the last in the series (unless Derek Acorah gets in touch with
Steig and ghostwrites a few more).
And we have David Fincher’s big-budget Hollywood remakes to look forward to. Ok,
I’m blank, so much for the good points.

As
indestructible as Michael Myers and twice as taciturn
, lesbian Goth avenger Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is recovering in hospital from being beaten,
repeatedly shot (once in the head!) and buried alive in The Girl Who Played With Fire and is under arrest, charged with attempted murder
after taking a hatchet to her evil/KGB agent/white slaver/sex trafficker/criminal
mastermind/Bond villain father
at
the climax of the previous film. As there’s obviously only one hospital in
the whole of Sweden
, dear old Dad is
recovering just down the hall from Lisbeth, plotting his revenge and blackmailing the
shadowy network of spies and politicians, “the Section”, who’ve been protecting
him for the last 30 years while he was busy being a criminal mastermind.
Unsurprisingly, the Section finds the whole blackmail thing a teeny bit
ungrateful
and despatch a retired
spook to assassinate him and his troublesome
daughter. When the elderly lone gunman succeeds only in offing Daddy before turning the gun on himself, it’s up to
crusading journalist (and the only man who ever turned Lisbeth!), Mikael
Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to clear Lisbeth’s name
and save her from the conspiracy
that’s out to send her back to the funny farm and the dastardly
clutches of lip-licking dodgy shrink Dr Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom). Luckily
Blomkvist’s sister Annika (Annika Hallin) is a lawyer and, in the best
traditions of courtroom drama, despite never having handled a big trial, she’ll
give representing Lisbeth her best shot. Meanwhile, in a sub-plot that feels like
an afterthought, Lisbeth’s half-brother Niedermann (Micke Spreitz),
who can’t feel pain in typically Bond villain fashion, is lurching around the
country like Boris Karloff, casually bricking inconsequential
characters
introduced solely to give him someone to kill while he’s hanging around
waiting for the climactic showdown with his wee sister.

Unbelievably
managing to be even more plodding
and po-faced than the previous
entries in the series, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest should’ve been called The Girl Who Spent The
Whole Film In Bed
since that’s where
the heroine is for half of the film, recovering from having a bullet pulled from
her brain while occasionally texting her memoirs to Blomkvist – “set dad on
fire…got raped…lol…;-)
”. And there’s
nothing exciting about watching a moody Goth text. Worse, the film takes itself
inordinately seriously. Which is a shame as The Girl Who Spent The Whole
Film In Bed
is one of the more
ludicrous films I’ve seen recently. In fact, I spent much of The Girl Who
Spent The Whole Film In Bed
picking
holes in the plot and occasionally uttering a derisive “Ha”. Leaving aside the whole question of why a shadowy spy network like the Section continues persecuting a moody Goth, exposing themselves in the process,
despite already killing the only character aware of their existence (her
father) and able to link them to a crime, The Girl Who Spent The Whole Film
In Bed
is packed with moments that
defy narrative logic.

Why
do the two deadly Serbian snipers
hired by the Section to assassinate Blomkvist decide that the best way to do so
is by having one of them walk up to him in a crowded café and try to shoot him
while the other waits in the car for the cops to spot him? THEY’RE
SNIPERS!
They
spent the whole of the Yugoslav Civil War killing civilians from a mile away
with high-powered rifles. Surely some sort of triangulated crossfire from an
elevated position as Blomkvist leaves the café would’ve been more successful?

The
Section try to discredit Blomkvist by breaking into his flat and planting
cocaine. A journalist? With a big bag of coke? Would that really shock the
Swedes?

Lisbeth’s
trial hinges upon illegally obtained information hacked from her psychiatrist’s
computer. Is presentation of illegally obtained confidential information admissible
in a Swedish court?

In
the last film hadn’t Lisbeth been framed for 3 murders and her fingerprints were
all over the murder weapon? How did she get out of that?

A
major sub-plot revolves around Blomkvist and his colleagues agonising over
whether to print Lisbeth’s story as they’re being threatened and the magazine
takes a month to put together. Why not just stick it on the Internet?

For
that matter, one of the crucial pieces of evidence at Lisbeth’s trial is the
video of her rape at the hands of her former guardian. Lisbeth’s supposed to be
a computer genius…why didn’t she just upload it to YouTube in the first movie?

And,
as she’s actually being tried for the attempted murder of her father, wouldn’t
Lisbeth’s trial kinda, you know, focus on her attacking Daddy with a
hatchet?

Perhaps
the most important question that the movie never answers however is: are
there any middle aged men in Sweden that aren’t into kiddie-rape?
Because on the evidence of this series of films, Sweden
looks like an ideal retirement destination for Gary Glitter.

While
the film is poorly paced, sprawling and unwieldy, with frequent flashbacks and
recaps, and one-note performances, the blame ultimately lies with the novels themselves. Rapace and Nyquist, both capable actors,
have little to do other than avoid bumping into the furniture and, as in the
previous film, they share little screen-time. Their characters don’t develop or progress in any way (he’s as earnest
and humourless as he was in the first
film, she’s still a miserable cow)
but once you realise that the books aren’t really a trilogy but an ongoing
series prematurely cut short by the author’s death it’s not a huge surprise
that the characters show little growth. By sticking slavishly to
the novels, the films never assume a life of their own, they lumber along like
Lisbeth’s indestructible brother, wasting time in search of an ending, and much
of The Girl Who Spent The Whole Film In Bed is concerned with tying up loose ends left hanging
by the previous two films.

Lacking any form of dramatic tension, the film bumbles along
from one thriller cliché to the next, ticking
boxes (desperate race against time…check, bad guys who spend too much time
explaining the plot…check, underdog triumphs in courtroom scene…check and
doublecheck) before trying to inject some last minute suspense by having Lisbeth and Niedermann slug it out in a derelict factory full
of conveniently abandoned weapons (like a nailgun. Who throws away a perfectly
serviceable nailgun?). What should be the exciting climax of the series as Lisbeth fights for her life and takes revenge for the years of abuse she’s suffered at the hands of patriarchal society feels perfunctory, lacks
any sense of satisfaction. You’re never in any doubt which of them is going to
be relaxing in the tattooist’s chair at the end of the day and the film just
fizzles out. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest desperately needs a sting in its tail.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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