Revenge is Hers
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
by Rick Levin
Excepting the pinched, taciturn exertions of Jodie Foster, the Hollywood revenge flick has been predominantly a hyper-masculinized affair, from the pinched, taciturn exertions of tall guys like Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin to the punchy, taciturn exertions of inflated violence hounds like Mel Gibson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Leave it to the Scandinavians to give the genre a spiny feminist twist by spinning the story of a one woman’s tangled but highly calculated act of vengeance into a kind of existential shaggy dog story. In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the final film based on late author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, heroine Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is now neck deep and sinking in a conspiratorial quagmire centering on her father, Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), a Soviet informant gone homicidally renegade, much to the discomfort of an inner circle of octogenarian Swedish operatives.
If you haven’t kept up with the previous two films, forget it: Hornet’s Nest takes it as a given that the audience is familiar (if not obsessed) with the trilogy, which is as thickly complicated as all six seasons of The Sopranos stuffed into a single manicotti. The movie is largely a wonkish procedural affair flecked with genre conventions — psycho killers, newsroom dustups, death threats, unremitting espionage. Daniel Alfredson, who directed the previous installment, gives this one an equally straightforward treatment, with few artistic frills. What elevates the movie, and the trilogy as a whole, are the two lead actors. As Mikael Blomkvist, the beleaguered journalist bent on exposing Salander’s persecutors, Michael Nyqvist is excellent, hung-dog but seething with righteousness. And as the hornet-nest-kicker/fire-starter with the dragon tattoo, Rapace is a riveting screen presence — especially in her final courtroom scenes as a mute, punked-out warrior, terrifyingly patient, who at long last smells blood. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest opens Friday, Nov. 19, at the Bijou. 44411 — Rick Levin