I read the first book and saw the first two Swedish film adaptations, but unlike millions of people out there, I don’t really get why Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is the biggest commercial book sensation in the world at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the first book (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) was pretty good, albeit a little long and tedious, and I thought the first film was phenomenal. The second film (The Girl Who Played With Fire — I have the book but haven’t read it yet) was pretty good, but nowhere as good as I wanted or expected it to be.
And now, the third and final (unless Larsson’s widow writes another one) volume of the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is about to hit Australian cinemas next month. I saw it at a critics’ screening earlier this week, and I believe hard core fans of the series will not be disappointed. It’s still not as good as the first film, but is a moderate step up from the second.
This one picks up from where the second one left off, and Lisbeth Salander (ie, Noomi Rapace, aka the ‘Girl’ in all the titles) is fighting for her life after being shot in the head (at the end of the previous film), but things are just getting interesting as there is a massive conspiracy behind everything and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nykvist) is there to get to the bottom of it.
Like the two earlier films in the series, Hornet’s Nest is a slow burn for the most part, with short bursts of excitement and exhilaration tossed into the mix. Once again, the story is driven by the two central characters, both who whom are at the peak of their game in this one.
I actually consider Dragon Tattoo to be kind of a separate part of the trilogy because it’s a film that stands up very well on its own. On the other hand, Fire and Hornet’s Nest are essentially one film, with Fire providing the set up (which is why it was weaker) and Hornet’s Nest providing the climax.
I can’t say I found the conspiracy to be particularly intelligent or engaging (to be honest I found it a little unnecessarily convoluted), though the way it was all brought together was ultimately quite satisfying. The courtroom scenes were especially enjoyable, as was the climatic showdown in the abandoned warehouse.
That said, like Fire, I was expecting and hoping for more, something that would blow me away and justify the hype surrounding this series. It didn’t happen, but on the whole, I was still pleased with the experience.
3.75 stars out of 5
PS: Still kinda looking forward to the American version.