With its murky meeting of macabre minds that includes geriatric gunslingers, robber baron sex maniacs, a homicidal transnational gene pool and one genius, DNA damaged goth gumshoe hacker, you would expect of Swedish director Daniel Alfredson’s The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest a tantalizing, deranged thriller teeming with suspense. But essentially neutered sexually and politically in contrast to the Stieg Larsson international bestseller trilogy on which it is based, the film mostly stagnates on screen. And like the northern climate from which the talky tale originates, Hornet’s Nest is less incendiary sting than simply stalled in deep freeze.
Noomi Rapace, who continues her sulking screen ordeal as Lisbeth, the perpetually defiant, damaged soul victimized by a father and assorted depraved father figures alike, is left to carry the weight of this movie on her frail shoulders in virtual silence. And which, without her nearly wordless presence seems always on the brink of collapse from terminal stagnation. Currently hospitalized with a bullet to the head, Lisbeth endures periodic target assassination attempts involving her estranged Soviet defector dad, his Swedish safely unindicted rogue agent co-conspirator counterparts, and the brutish hitman kin stalking her in a kind of homicidal half-sibling rivalry.
And after dodging bullets during her medical recuperation, from aging assassins killing each other when not themselves, Lisbeth is imprisoned and put on trial for the attempted murder of someone subsequently murdered by someone else. But not without the continuing, persistent intervention on the sidelines of dedicated muckraker reporter, Mikael (Michael Nyqvist). While likewise lurking about are suspect salacious shrinks wielding psychiatric incarceration as a political weapon,
To make a short story exceedingly long, as the narrative steeped in legalese plods its way towards the finish line, Lisbeth moves on from raping a man right back, to quite literally nailing a persistent perpetrator. While concurrently coming to light though mostly as afterthought, is a suggested link between political and sexual dysfunction connecting right wing covert tendencies to rape, sadism, bondage and pedophilia.
Oddly enough, even as Hornet’s Nest obsesses over details involving legal evidence and uncovered online data pertinent to the story, the political thrust of Larsson’s trilogy touching on disturbing right wing trends in Sweden has virtually vanished on the screen. And as Larsson himself devoted his life to uncovering economic conspiracies at the highest levels, and may have paid the price. A reporter for the Swedish Communist Workers League newspaper and an ardent left activist, Larsson was stalked, hounded, and threatened with death by right wing extremists. And forced into hiding under such stressful conditions, that he succumbed to a massive heart attack and died suddenly in 2004 at the age of fifty.
On a positive note, Rapace impresses in a never less than hypnotic performance, and with her very pregnant defense lawyer (Annika Hallin) consistently by her side as the supportive maternal nurturer in her emotionally deprived life. While conveying with rarely evidenced presence and uncommon depth in a movie, the wounds that stubbornly cling to more often than not unrecognized victims of sexual abuse, and even when basking in legal or moral victory.
Music Box Films
2 [out of 4] stars