The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009)
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Anders Ahlbom
Divulging all of the key plot details would probably need a handbook in itself, but many of the events in the narrative all serve a similar purpose. It’s well documented that this series of books was intended to be titled “For Women who Hate Men,” and that would certainly have been apt. You can count on one hand the number of positive male characters in all three films combined. Not content with having plagued Lisbeth with an abusive father, a sadistic serial killer, and a rapist for a Legal Guardian, “Hornet’s Nest” dredges up the paedophile doctor who kept her strapped to a hospital bed for over a year. The film demonises the doctor as a sinister, evil liar, and does so to once again extricate sympathy for its weary heroine, who you feel has had to put up with far too much by the time the courtroom scenes roll around. From the aged villains involved in the conspiracy during her childhood, to the stilted lawyers who oppose her, the film acts as a final, determined effort to make the white male seem as thoroughly corrupt and sub-human a species as is fully possible. This might be a film intent on flaunting the abilities of its principal female character, but it victimises her through sexuality rather than empowers her through it, and shies away from considering the ambiguities within her thought process. In making her a statement of subculture “Hornet’s Nest” strips her of identity, and has more in common with fascism than feminism.
Too much of the film’s genuine drama either stems from relaying events in its heroine’s past, or creating overtly-shocking displays of sexuality and violence. “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” has a propensity towards displaying violence as both a poison and an antidote, dangerously promoting vengeance as a quenching cure for bitterness. The previously-interesting Blomkvist becomes a fairly moot figure, and the dynamic between he and Lisbeth is more frayed and uncertain here than in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl who Played with Fire”. Regardless of its hard-hitting techniques, this latest addition to Scandinavian crime-drama falls on the wrong side of ugly, and more unforgivably is the dullest part of what, for now, remains a trilogy.