The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, or Millennium 3 for short, is the last movie adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s massively successful trilogy of books that feature a gothic woman who is an ace hacker and has an unlikely ally in the shape of a middle-aged crusading journalist. This third chapter, directed by Daniel Alfredson, finds Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) hospitalized after having been shot twice and buried alive. Not that that was a major inconvenience since she managed to dig her way out in order to attack the man who did it with an axe. The man in question is a criminal and a defector from the Soviet Union who received help from rogue members of the Swedish government in order to stay in the country during the cold war. He is also Lisbeth’s father, and the police wish to prosecute her for his attempted murder.
Outside the hospital Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is building a massive exposé with his magazine Millennium in order to both clear Lisbeth’s name and expose the gang of criminals who have been dealing with her father for years. The investigation can seem a bit complicated at times: many characters are connected, names that were mentioned in previous movies are important, and past events are a key part of the film’s plot. It may not be necessary to have read the books before watching the movies on which they are based, but it might be necessary to watch the previous two films before watching this particular one since all the pieces are coming together.
Yet on its own, it works very well as a thriller and eventually as a courtroom drama. While Mikael is busy preparing his story, Lisbeth is recovering from her injuries and preparing her defence. One of the best scenes in the movie is during an interview before the trial when she is face to face with Dr. Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom) the man who physically abused her when she was a patient at his mental hospital. This monster actually has the nerve to tell her his actions were justified and were part of the treatment. He defiantly shows her the finger she bit many years ago, as though daring her to do it again in order to give the prosecution more things to work with. Lisbeth is smart enough not to say a word, but boy does that look say a lot. The next time they meet is in court and she is in full Goth outfit: Mohawk haircut, dark eyeliner, multiple earrings, leather clothing, and not a hint of the ability to smile. She is dressed for battle and ready for a war.
Stieg Larson was journalist so there is a feel of authenticity to the investigation being conducted by Mikael and his colleagues. They work tirelessly, coffee is their fuel, and they protect their sources from prying eyes and pressure those sources who will not cooperate. At the same time they have to deal with the criminals that they are reporting on, who will use any means necessary to stay in the shadows. Phones are tapped, houses are broken into, and death threats are sent to the editor Erika Berger (Lena Endre) who asks Mikael a very reasonable question: is this story worth risking our lives? It’s not bad enough that reporters have to deal with the death of the print industry without having to worry about hired gunmen.
The wild card in the story is Lisbeth’s half brother Ronald, a hulk of a man who kills people for their criminal father. This brute is built like a brick wall, never speaks, and to top it all off has a medical condition that allows him to feel little to no pain, much like Robert Carlyle’s character in The World in not Enough except without the bullet in the head. Eventually his feet are nailed to the floor with a nail gun and he does not grunt out of pain, but out of frustration at being immobilized. He spends much of the story following the events on television while planning his next move and breaking into people’s home for food and shelter. Imagine walking into your home and being tied to a chair by a merciless giant who will calmly eat the contents of your refrigerator with as much thought to you as though you were just some minor nuisance to be dealt with once supper is over.
It is a shame that the author died in 2004 preventing him from writing any further adventures involving Salander and Blomkvist. Their relationship is uneasy since they have both saved each other’s lives at one point or another but do not know how to interact with one another. It is especially difficult for Lisbeth to show appreciation since she has unfortunately rarely met any man who has ever been nice to her. She doesn’t seem to be grateful to people who help because she simply doesn’t know how to show gratefulness. Mikael almost seems shy around her, not exactly sure of how to deal with a Goth who once threw gasoline on a man and lit a match. Yet he feels sympathy for her, and wishes her the best. My wish is they would team up again because despite their many differences, when they team up the results are very entertaining for viewers and very damaging for the bad guys.