Movie Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

By: Mike McCrann

The third and final film in the trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novels is the weakest of the three Swedish films released this year in the U.S.

The three films made from these books are a mixed bag.

The first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (directed by Niels Arden Oplev) is easily the best of the bunch. Actress Noomi Rapace blazes across the screen as the abused heroine Lisbeth Salander. Rapace is ferocious in the role and some of the violent scenes, including two brutal rapes (one for Lisbeth and one for her attacker), are filmed in almost X-rated detail. But the film is really good, with a great plot and great acting. The sole male figure who is not evil to Lisbeth is the crusading editor played by Michael Nygvist. (This part is pretty much based on Stieg Larsson himself.) This film is totally satisfying, even if the violence is pretty hard to take.

The girl who kicked the hornets5 The second film, The Girl Who Played with Fire, was made with a different director and was much less successful than the first. There were some great plot revelations and some more violence, but the film just felt like pieces left over from the first film.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is pretty much a complete misfire for two reasons. The first is that Lisbeth is either in a hospital bed or prison cell for most of the film, thus keeping the films' real star out of the action. The other reason is that no new plot revelations are introduced. As each of these films is almost 2 1/2 hours long it makes The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest pretty boring until the last 15 minutes when Lisbeth is finally released to avenge herself.

The girl who kicked the hornet's nest2 Not having read any of the books, I truly feel there is one good movie is this whole pile of words. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could have taken the new elements from Played with Fire and combined them into one successful film. It’s interesting to note that director David Fincher (The Social Network and Zodiak) is going to remake the first film with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as heroine Lisbeth Salander. Hopefully Fincher will do some clever combining with his American remake, but the chance to cash in on a successful franchise with sequels pretty much ensures that more than one film will be made unless the first one is a flop.

The girl who kicked the hornet's nest Replacing Rapace with Mara will be interesting. Mara played the fictional love interest who sets up The Social Network with her rejection of the future Facebook creator. She has a great face but I am not sure if she can compete with Rapace, whose performance was so outstanding in the Swedish films. Plus, I do not think that an American version can get away with the violence of the Swedish trio.

As a side note, Hollywood continues to remake successful foreign films. Supposedly the Argentine Best Foreign Picture, The Secret in Their Eyes, and the French thriller Tell No One are being remade. I know the reason why but I still must ask— WHY? How can they even attempt to remake films that were so wonderful in their original language? If American moviegoers can't drag their butts out to see a subtitled film then they don't deserve a remake, good or bad.