Since all three movies were filmed in quick succession, the same core cast continues all their roles, including Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, the “girl” of the titles, and Michael Nyqvist as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
Just as all three of the books are different, each of the movies has a different tone and pace: “Dragon Tattoo” was a mystery piece, “Girl Who Played With Fire” more action-adventure, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” a story of intrigue and suspense. The action picks up literally moments after the end of “Fire”, with Lisbeth being airlifted to the hospital on the same helicopter as her venomous father, Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) who ends up down the hall from her in the same intensive care ward. (Evidently, being hard to kill runs in the family--.)
The circumstances result in Lisbeth being charged with attempted murder of the old man, and the plot largely deals with Blomkvist’s efforts to clear her name. His job is complicated by the intervention of “The Section”, the autonomous rogue intelligence team which was originally set up to “run” Zalachencho but which has since become a spy agency within the Security Service itself, and which will do anything to preserve itself. This movie goes at the intellectual pace of a chess game of move and countermove, yet is sufficiently involving not to feel like almost two and a half hours.
Despite its strengths, even condensing the intricate plot of the novel to that length required compromises. Missing is the subplot involving Erika Berger (Lena Endre) being wooed away from Millennium magazine by a daily paper, with its examinations of journalistic ethics and corporate corruption. We also don’t get the LeCarre-like backstory of The Section and its evolution, and much of the investigation that leads to The Section’s takedown is done offscreen. A pity, that, since Constitutional Police officer Monica Figuerola (played by Mirja Turestedt) is another one of Larsson’s fascinating strong female characters, and it would have been good to see more of her on screen.
As with “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” Rapace as Salander doesn’t have a lot of lines, but her acting relies on subtle physical cues, including an impressive impassivity demonstrating the defenses of a person who has been profoundly abused by those who should have been her protectors. Particularly in scenes with the bent psychiatrist Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom) , her inscrutability is impressive, as the temptation for any actor would be to hint by some cues what the character was feeling toward her interrogator.
As with the other films, she is well supported by Nyqvist, Endre, and the other core cast members, and new characters attorney Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin) and Hans Alfredson and Lennart Hjulstrom as the “retired, extremely dangerous” old men who still dictate The Section’s actions.
We enjoyed the film very much as the complex story wound to a satisfying conclusion. It did help that this part of the story had less violence than the earlier installments. Although we still see murder and suicide on screen, these incidents are sudden and not lingered over.
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