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June 2011

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest

cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, and Mikael Spreitz

director: Daniel Alfredson

148 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2

RATING: 10/10
review by Mike Philbin

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest

Man, this is one dark series. And the answer to the question you've not yet asked is; no, I have no idea why they changed the screenwriter for this third outing of the Lisbeth Salander/ Millennium series, but it doesn't affect the narrative progression from the previous two films, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played With Fire, nor the grittily urban style of storytelling.

Lisbeth Salander barely survived the events of the physically-and-emotionally-draining second film and spends most of this third, and final, instalment recuperating in a hospital from a gunshot wound to the head. Protected from interrogation for murder by her attending physician Dr Jonasson, Salander gains in strength and lust for revenge as the film edges ever-closer to the ultimate revelation and core reason for this trilogy. This leaves most of the interrogation and intelligence activity up to Millennium magazine publisher Mikael Blomqvist, he even has to 'interface' with one of Salander's dodgy hacker buddies, cosily named 'Plague'.

This time out, we meet Dr Teleborian (what a wonderfully malevolent-sounding name) who was Lisbeth's 'guardian' during her stay at St Stephen's mental institute where she was incarcerated as a girl after the attempted murder (by fire) of her violent government-protected father. Teleborian's defence is that Lisbeth's stories (and baseless accusations) amount to nothing more than the lies and manipulation of a sadistic psychopath. We discover damning evidence about Teleborian that make us the viewer want to kill him in slow and inventive ways. He is a pariah scuttling about under the protection of his employment status, a predatory sicko which any sane society would annihilate at birth.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is classic old boys' network movie-making eviscerating the intelligence operations of a covert offshoot of the Swedish secret police known only as 'Section', with murders and assassinations and suicides a-plenty. Proper thinking man's horror at its best: an astonishing display of bravura climax-building and narrative inter-dependence like any old bread-stealer stretched out in a medieval torture chamber, pleading for mercy. The contemporary courtroom scenes, particularly, have an eerie dark ages feel to them.

Fear not, dear viewer, Lisbeth Salander gets better and (despite the best efforts of bleached-blond 'terminator' Niedermann) gets even with her many abusers in welfare state Sweden. All around her, the government sex-ring Cold War conspiracy is coming apart at the seams, thanks in the most part to the sterling investigative work of Mikael Blomkvist. This is really quite entertaining (if truly morbid) viewing.



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