Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Kicking the Hornet's Nest' to a conclusion

That tattooed girl is back for a final chapter.

At first, I had difficulty becoming involved with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest -- the final chapter in Swedish author Stieg Larsson's phenomenally popular Millennium Trilogy. Characters were coming and going at a rapid clip, and I had to (pardon the expression) kick myself to keep up with a movie that's long on talk and even longer on complicated conspiratorial thinking. * Then a funny thing happened: Either director Daniel Alfredson settled down or I did. Whichever it was, this final chapter began to draw me into its complicated and often perverse web. * Trimming away much of the novel's social commentary -- particularly Larsson's observations about the media -- Alfredson and screenwriter Jonas Fryberg maintain the kind of thickly ominous atmosphere that adds both welcome intrigue and unfortunate complexity to the proceedings. * Michael Nyqvist (as journalist Mikael Blomkvist) and Noomi Repace (as the punkish Lisbeth Salander) hold their own as the story weaves its way through a plot that begins when Lisbeth is airlifted to a hospital, having suffered a major beating at the end of the last movie. * Plagued with injuries, Lisbeth undergoes surgery and spends a good portion of the movie's 2 1/2 hours recuperating in a hospital bed. When she finally emerges, she does so with a renewed ferocity that gives the movie some much-needed kick. * Meanwhile, Blomkvist works to clear Lisbeth of murder charges stemming from the incendiary events of the last movie. As he proceeds, the story branches out to include the police, secret agents and a cadre of older spies. * Most of the plot reverberations from the second movie pertain to Lisbeth's father (Gerogi Staykov) and her half-brother (Micke Spreitz), a blond giant of a man who looks like a refugee from a '60s Bond movie. * Aksel Morissey has a nice turn as Libseth's doctor, a physician who's intrigued by her and who really has her best interests at heart. Lena Endre returns as magazine editor Erika Berger, and Annika Hallin portrays Blomkvist's sister. * Far too complex to summarize here, the plot will make no sense to those who haven't seen the first two movies or read all three books. But an awful lot of folks have, and most of them should be satisfied with this final installment, the last we'll see of Lisbeth on screen until the American version hits theaters next year.*

 *For those who don't know, the American remake of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the series will be released in Dec. 2011; it's being directed by David Fincher (Social Network) who cast actress Rooney Mara in the pivotal role of Lisbeth.

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