The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
(Luftslottet som sprängdes)

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes)
Made in: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Anders Ahlbom, Annika Hallin, Lennart Hjulström, Mikael Spreitz, Aksel Morisse, Georgi Staykov
Year: 2009

Warning: This review contains spoilers to The Girl who played with Fire. Stop reading if you haven't seen that movie yet.

Synopsis: Picking up almost exactly where the last film left off, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest starts with a critically injured Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) being airlifted to a hospital in the southwest Swedish city of Göteborg.

In the last movie, we learned that Lisbeth's own father, Anton Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), and menacing half-brother Niedermann (Mikael Spreitz), were behind the murders that she was framed for. After tracking Zalachenko to his secluded farm, Lisbeth was nearly killed but not before taking an axe to Zalachenko's head and leg.

Zalachenko himself survived, and is recovering in the same hospital as his daughter.

However, Lisbeth's shocking discovery is only the tip of the iceberg. A rogue element within Sweden's Security Service has a long history with Zalachenko, and they have a vested interest in seeing both him and Lisbeth silenced.

For weeks while Lisbeth recovers in the hospital and awaits trial, intrepid investigative journalist Michael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) convinces his sister Annika (Annika Hallin) to represent her. All the while, he continues to work at proving her innocence amidst all the madness that has been going on.

Lisbeth begins work on her autobiography, and Blomkvist intends to dedicate the next issue of his Millennium Magazine to telling her explosive story.

However, former security service officer Fredrik Clinton (Lennart Hjulström), who was once an associate of Zalachenko, enlists the help of the corrupt Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom).

Teleborian is the psychiatrist who treated Lisbeth when she was first committed to a mental institution at the age of 12. While there, Teleborian secretly molested her repeatedly and kept her restrained for long periods of time.

It is Clinton's plan to get Teleborian to testify in court as to why Lisbeth should be returned to the looney bin under his "care." That way, she can not only be publicly discredited but hidden away forever.

As Blomkvist digs deeper into his investigation to prove Lisbeth's innocence, the efforts to threaten him and his magazine staff intensify. And eventually, they culminate in outright death threats. As the trial date approaches, time begins running out fast for him to expose the high profile players in this outrageous national conspiracy.

The Good: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a satisfying conclusion to this complex, methodical trilogy. The great characters remain consistent throughout, all loose ends are finally tied together, and all questions answered.

Anders Ahlbom, as the sick Dr. Teleborian, plays a convincing and perfectly despicable villain. What makes him so frightening isn't because he's big and scary, but because he holds such a revered place in society. Another standout is Annika Hallin, who plays Lisbeth's attorney and Blomkvist's sister.

She's a very realistic-looking character, and her expanded role in the trilogy did a lot to make the story solid. Although the film can easily be defined as a thriller, most of the excitement comes from the development of the story rather than action sequences (although the action definitely is intense).

The Bad: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest starts out a little slow, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of. At first, the multitude of new players (most of whom are boring-looking old guys), made me wonder if the whole picture was going to go off on some strange tangent.

But fortunately, it did not.

Who would like this film: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is for you if you like thrillers that involve conspiracy theories and down-to-earth villains who could plausibly exist. Again, this is a story whose major strengths are in the way in which it's told.

This is the most complex of the three films. It does get off to a slow start and seems a bit boring at first, but becomes much more exciting after the halfway point. From there, it picks up even more until the very end.

I'd recommend that you watch the entire trilogy in as short of time as possible, as the whole thing pretty much seems like one long movie. That, and because there are so many characters and details to remember. For fans of foreign film and/or good murder mysteries, this one's a solid winner.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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