This is the final chapter in the late Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson’s thrilling crime trilogy, following “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” And if you’re not familiar with the complex, violent storyline revolving around a tortured, mysterious computer hacker, don’t even consider picking it up at this time.
This installment begins with bruised and battered Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) on a medical helicopter en route to a hospital where doctors remove a bullet lodged near her brain. As she slowly recovers, members of a covert, corrupt unit within bureaucratic Swedish Security plot to kill her, as does her lumbering half-brother Ronald Niedermann (Mikael Spreitz), while tormentors from her past – like creepy psychiatrist Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlborn Rosendahl) – conspire to convict her in court, where she faces charges for the attempted murder of her abusive father, Soviet spy Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), and accusations of mental incompetence.
Meanwhile, crusading Stockholm journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and his lawyer sister, Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin), work out a defense strategy, placing “Millennium” magazine editor Erika Berger (Lena Endre) and her staff in grave danger, motivating clichéd dialogue like: “We’ve got to stick together, now more than ever.”
Adapted by Ulf Rydberg and directed by Daniel Alfredson, it’s emotionally bleak, drenched in gritty realism, and the detail-heavy, cyber-hacking exposition drones on far too long. Since silent, glowering Lisbeth is confined to a hospital bed, then a jail cell, the action sequences are, unfortunately, few and far between, while Mikael’s character has been rendered dull, and their once provocative relationship remains blandly enigmatic.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” descends to a dull, disappointing, vengeance-filled 5. It’s intriguing not only to imagine how director David Fincher will handle the upcoming English-language remake, starring Daniel Craig, Robin Wright and newcomer Rooney Mara in the title role – but also to consider that Stieg Larsson’s girlfriend may have the manuscript for a fourth book.