Thursday, October 28, 2010

Loose Ends Are Tied in "Hornet's Nest"

By Skip Sheffield

“You came to kill me” are the first words heard in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” as hero Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) lies in a hospital bed, bruised and swathed in bandages, emerging from a coma.
The statement is pretty much the essence of all three parts of the Millennium Trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Professional computer hacker Lisbeth was abused by her father as a child, and she retaliated by trying to set him on fire at age 12. For poor Lisbeth it is kill or be killed.
Since her violent incidents with dad (she later went at him with an ax), Lisbeth has been in and out of mental institutions, and under the care of dubious guardians who have abused her further.
No wonder Lisbeth distrusts and dislikes men in general.
There is one notable exception: Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a crusading investigative journalist at Millennium magazine. In installment one, “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Lisbeth helped Mikael uncover a half-century old Nazi plot involving mutilation and murder of women. In the course of their perilous investigation they have a torrid fling.
“Dragon Tattoo” remains my favorite of the Millennium trilogy because it combined mystery, suspense, blistering action and hot May-December romance. In part two, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” Lisbeth took center stage to become kind of an avenging feminist supergirl. As a result of her desperate altercations, she has a bullet in her head and two other parts of her body, and at age 27 she is accused of three counts of murder.
In this final installment, Mikael moves back to center stage as Lisbeth’s steadfast defender and protector, though feisty Lisbeth hardly needs to lean on any man for support. Her conscientious Dr. Jonasson (Askel Morisse) does his best to shield her from police and bad guys alike while she is helpless.
The Millennium series has made a star of Lisbeth Salander, a thin, slight, dark-haired beauty who does martial arts moves with a ballerina’s grace.
The problem with “Hornet’s Nest” is that it is much more static than either of the earlier chapters, and it is bogged with plot details that clutter its two hours-plus length under the direction of Daniel Alfredson.
The person who must be killed is Lisbeth’s purely evil father, Russian immigrant Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov). Zalachenko revels in his own evil, and he is contemptuous of anyone who thinks he can be defeated.
On that account there is some satisfying closure regarding the fate of Zalachenko, but there are oodles of other bad guys who must be dispatched by Ms. Salander.
Paramount among these is Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), a hulking platinum-haired giant who just happens to be Lisbeth’s half-brother. Other nasties include crooked psychiatrist Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbon), and Evert Gullberg (Hans Alfredson) and Fredrik Clinton (Lennart Hjulstrom), former heads of the shadowy, sinister “Section” political faction.
Once Lisbeth regains her health and readies to face the music in court with her compassionate lawyer, Mikhail’s sister Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin), she struts her all-black colors, teases her hair into a Mohawk, and re-inserts all the hardware into her various piercings in defiance of courtly decorum.
Plot threads tie up a little too neatly in this finale, but it still has action, intrigue and style. I cringe to think what is in store when this series is remade in the USA with American actors, so catch the real thing while you can.

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