Dir. Daniel Alfredson
(2010, R, 147 min)
★ ★ ★

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, concluding the Swedish film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy novels, is a broad, pulpy thriller about how our heroes Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) unravel a vast conspiracy to cover up … um, something or other. In my review of the previous film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, I wrote that I wasn’t exactly clear on the plot, and I’m still not exactly clear on the plot of that film, which had to do with secrets from Lisbeth’s past coming back to haunt her. Hornets’ Nest picks up where Fire left off, but in its more straightforward, bad-guys-get-their-comeuppance way, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. It’s quite long at 147 minutes but moves briskly.

Lisbeth, badly injured and hospitalized after the end of the last film (I’ll refrain from revealing details that will spoil the previous installments), is held for attempted murder, and the first thing we notice is how the Swedish authorities keep managing to arrest her for crimes she didn’t commit, though I suppose if she weren’t wrongly accused on a semi-regular basis, there would be nothing to make movies about.

Journalist Mikael, Lisbeth’s strongest ally, looks for evidence to exonerate her. In a story like this we’d expect him to be the lone believer in her innocence and buck authority at every turn, but happily this film grants him allies in the form of smarter-than-average government investigators, who want to help him instead of slow him down. The conclusion is a bit anticlimactic, brought about by less than cunning means and executed in the background of the story by secondary characters, but there are some satisfying courtroom scenes as Lisbeth fights for vindication.

A lot of this material is rather silly (evil strongman Niedermann, played by Micke Spreitz, is back; he periodically appears, randomly murders someone, and then the film cuts back to the main story), but as guilty-pleasure detective fiction it worked for me. However, unlike another recently replicated Swedish import, Let the Right One In, this trilogy is begging to be remade. Mr. Fincher, the ball is in your court.

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