Wednesday, 24 November 2010



This is the last of the three film adaptations of the original Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson (not counting next year's American remake of the first segment, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). And the short and simple verdict is that it's simply not up there with the first one but it is better than the second instalment (The Girl Who Played With Fire). The longer verdict is that it's more engaging, but dramatically flawed in that some bits seem irrelevantly bolted on where they don't really fit. In addition it has the feel, as indeed its predecessors had, of an ITV Drama Premiere: a Taggart or a Prime Suspect. Despite the Swedish dialogue and English subtitles, they've all had a television atmosphere about them: you half-expect an advert break every twenty minutes. If it weren't for the graphic (though justifiable in context) scenes of sexual violence in Dragon Tattoo that's where they could comfortably sit - two nights per film just after the watershed, with the news headlines halfway through.

One of the joys of Dragon Tattoo was that we didn't know very much about The Girl, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). We had no backstory beyond the bare minimum and that worked because we related to her as she was. In Played With Fire we got lots of details about how she came to be that way, and while it's fine to plot it out that This Bloke's actually her father and That Bloke's actually her half-brother, it didn't fit that they were at the heart of a story that Mikael Blomkvist, the other half of the Dragon Tattoo partnership, just coincidentally happened to be working on. Now, with The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, we go into even more detail about her history and who her father, Zalachenko, was - specifically the secret society within the Swedish government that handled and covered up his defection from Russia and his subsequent criminal operations. As Blomkvist's crusading Millennium magazine tries to publish an exposé of this secret gathering and prove Lisbeth's innocence of the attempted murder of Zalachekno at the end of the second movie, the now-elderly members of the old group resurface to protect themselves.

Much of Lisbeth's role in the movie is, sadly, not to mightily kick ass but to stay in her hospital room recovering from her bullet wounds and awaiting psychiatric evaluation by an obviously evil bastard of a doctor: having failed to kill her the group have decided to get her committed and dumped in an asylum. In addition they're trying to stop the publication of the Millennium magazine, using increasingly violent means: threatening emails, rocks through the windows, gun-toting Serbian gangsters shooting up a restaurant.....

As with Played With Fire, Lisbeth and Blomkvist are separated for almost the entire film and it's a shame because they worked so well together in Dragon Tattoo. There's also a dramatic contrivance in that the climax of the plot does hinge on the contents of the obviously evil bastard of a doctor's laptop: a factor which has nothing to do with Lisbeth or Blomkvist and everything to do with the script's need to have the doctor destroyed as spectacularly as possible. (I have no idea whether it's the same in the novels as I haven't read them.) And towards the end, it's as if they felt the need to have Lisbeth do a bit of asskicking so there's a sequence in an abandoned brickyard which really doesn't fit, and is just there because otherwise the 146-minute movie would perhaps conclude on an underwhelming final reel. But despite that, and despite the television feel to it, I did enjoy it and I do prefer it to the second film even though it's nowhere near as exciting as Dragon Tattoo was (the poster bears a quote from the Daily Mirror claiming it's the "thriller of the decade" - well, it isn't). It's not great, but it's not terrible either. And I suspect the American remake will only go as far as the first instalment.


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