Lisbeth Salander is one of the great female protagonists of any entertainment medium, be it film or literature. It's hard to think of a recent fictional heroine who has embodied such nonconformity and confidence as Lisbeth, who dresses like a Kiss groupie to a trial without second thought. Noomi Rapace has lived this part throughout the Millennium trilogy, which was released in Sweden in 2009 and has come out in America throughout this year. In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo little was learned about Lisbeth's mysterious past. In The Girl Who Played With Fire we discovered Lisbeth's history with her abusive father. Now her story comes full circle in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, a commendable final entry of this series.
The film picks up where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. Lisbeth is recuperating in the hospital after a shooting. Once Lisbeth is released she will have to face a judge for the attempted murder of her father, Zalachenko, who is also recovering due to an ax to the head. Mikael, Lisbeth's dedicated friend and on-an-off lover, once again played by Michael Nyqvist, works diligently to get her exonerated. All the while Lisbeth's lethal half-brother, Niedermann, is still on the loose.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest isn't quite as action driven as the first two Millennium chapters. It's more along the lines of a courtroom drama. As a courtroom drama, the film still works as a suspenseful and exciting thriller that keeps the audience consistently on their toes. After three films we've become genuinely invested in the fate of these characters and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest does not disappoint in the outcome of their story.
If there's one problem with the film it's that there aren't quite enough scenes between Lisbeth and Mikael. In the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo they shared a fascinating partnership as two people who love each other but cannot engage in a romantic relationship. In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and also The Girl Who Played With Fire, Lisbeth and Mikael are separated a majority of the time, which is kind of a missed opportunity. That doesn't mean they're any less interesting as individual characters though. Lisbeth in particular is compelling as ever, despite being confined to a hospital room for a good chunk of the movie.
If I had to single out the best film of this trilogy, Director Niels Arden Oplev's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the clear favorite. Nevertheless, these two sequels from Daniel Alfredson are still pretty good. By that stander, Millennium is one of the best trilogies ever adapted to the screen. The only downside is that there will not be another entry to this series due to the death of Stieg Larsson, the author of the original novels. Rumor has it Larsson was developing a fourth book at the time of his death in what might have been a 10-part series. In that case I suppose Millennium is his unfinished masterpiece.
David Fincher is already working on an Americanized remake of the Millennium trilogy starring Daniel Craig and newcomer Rooney Mara. Quite frankly, I'm more than optimistic about the project. I just hope the American remakes will not cause these original three films to fall through the cracks. This is a trilogy to seek out and, as a whole, is truly one of the cinematic achievements of the year.