Hornet’s Nest picks up immediately where Fire left off. If you will recall, Part II of the Millennium trilogy ended with Larsson’s spunky heroine Lisbeth Salander hacking her father in the face after he put a bullet in her brain. That’s right…after. Sally’s that tough. Anyways, Lisbeth succumbs to her injuries and spends a good deal of Hornet’s Nest tucked away in a hospital bed whilst in a coma. To thicken the plot, the inept Swedish police have placed Lisbeth’s mean daddy, Zalachenko, in the same corridor at the hospital. (It seems the Swedes are quite good at surviving massive head traumas…)
Conversely, the final instalment of the Millennium series might have the biggest payoff for anyone who hasn’t read the book. So little information has been revealed in the previous two films, therefore the film might actually be more intriguing and engaging for someone seeing the conspiracy come full circle for the first time. However, this could be just as debilitating: since Lisbeth’s past has mostly remained unexplored, Hornet’s Nest could potentially be information overload.
The same team of filmmakers responsible for The Girl Who Played with Fire assembled The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. While Fire was just as plot driven as its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tattoo still unfolded with the acute attention to detail of Larsson’s novel and thus retained much of the story’s larger implications about violence against women and the inequalities/flaws of Sweden’s social system. Fire ignored most of the social aspects of the story, which is unfortunate because Larsson’s novel had a lot to say about the horrors of human trafficking. One can assume that since director Daniel Alfredson and writer Jonas Frykberg are crafting the third episode, Hornet’s Nest will also concentrate primarily on the Lisbeth-Blomkvist relationship. However, since Hornet’s Nest finally puts Lisbeth and her tormentors on trial, the relationship between the two leads unspools a strong condemnation of Sweden’s legal system.
The sub-plot might not be lost completely, though. As always, Lisbeth finds a way in. Erika begins to receive anonymous threats and vulgar intimidation from someone in the newsroom immediately after she takes charge, and, understanding that Lisbeth is connected somehow to Blomkvist and the Wennerström affair from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Erika enlists her to cypercreep the newsroom staff. Erika’s sub-plot in Part III is thus quite essential since it brings the Lisbeth-Blomkvist-Erika triangle full circle. The movies reduce Erika Berger quite substantially as a character, and it’s unfortunate because she provides a lot of tension within the relationship between Lisbeth and Blomkvist. (At the end of the first book, Lisbeth cuts off communication with Mikael when she spies him sneaking a date with Erika.). Actress Lena Endre actually gets her name in the trailer this time, so hopefully that’s a good indicator of Erika’s presence in Hornet’s Nest.
Even if Erika continues to be a mere extra in the Millennium films, that is potentially forgivable because it will means that the majority of the screen time will be devoted to Lisbeth herself. After all, these films are all about “The Girl…” and it would be a shame not to see Lisbeth developed to the fullest in the final instalment. Lisbeth Salander is certainly among the best and most memorable literary characters of recent years, and in the hands of Noomi Rapace, Lisbeth’s equally, if not more, entrancing onscreen.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest may be Sweden’s last word on Salander and the Millennium trilogy. The American remake is already in the works and it is scheduled for release next December. Hopefully, that last word of Hornet’s Nest will not have the feeble reply of Fire, but rather the same bold tenor that first introduced The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest opens in limited release on October 29.
*Dragon Tattoo and Fire play as a double bill at The Bytowne on October 27-28, so there is time to catch up!