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— Truth be told, I’m kind of glad it’s over. Somewhere about halfway through the second film, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy reached the point of diminishing returns for me. Any of the three films would probably be fine on its own - if I hadn’t seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or The Girl Who PlayedWith Fire, then I’d probably receive The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest as a smart, adult thriller with a little kicky kinkiness.

But as it is, I’ve now spent about seven hours in the company of the comfortably frumpy, reliably liberal journalist Mikael Blomkvist ( Mi-kael Nyqvist) and the goth avenger Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), and I have to say I’m simply worn out. Maybe if these films had arrived at decent intervals - a couple of years, say - maybe they wouldn’t seem so, well, patently ludicrous and formulaic. (I’m actually bullish on the David Fincher Hollywood re-makes coming our way. They could be much better.)

Not that I don’t enjoy the characters - Lisbeth in particular. She’s damaged yet resilient, a surly snarling anti-hero with a lurid libido, serious father issues (which she dealt with in the last episode by leaving an ax in the old man’s head) and - in this film - a spectacular Mohawk.

Hornet’s Nest could be read as the passion of Lisbeth Salander, as she undergoes a kind of secular crucifixion at the hands of the Swedish establishment, whose crimes against women she has been fighting against all her tortured little life.

Philip Martin is blogging daily with reviews of movies, TV, music and more at Blood, Dirt & Angels.

She spends most of the movie confined, first to the hospital where she’s recovering from the bullet wounds inflicted by (her still alive) former Soviet spy turned sex-slaver father, and then in prison for her attempted murder of him. She usesher time in stir wisely, writing a detailed autobiography and working out like a fiend. Then she turns up at the court hearing to determine her mental competency dressed like Siouxsie Sioux.

Yet, while Rapace - andlets give director Daniel Alfredson a little credit on this point - has created an indelible and remarkably uncompromised and unapologetic character (there’s a little Elvis sneer that she gives that suggests she enjoys hurting people of the male persuasion), the movie feels awkward and ponderous, a little too concerned with its subtexts of societal injustice and the powerlessness of those of us who don’t possess an iron will and superheroic computer skills.

Sure, it’s just so much revenge fantasy pulp, but it’s devolved from beautifully rendered haunting pulp (the first film, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, was - I now realize - an extraordinarily sensual visual experience) into talky, pretentious pulp that comes dangerously close to being the sort of functionally plotted torture porn on which Lisbeth Salander might feel obliged to take revenge.

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 11/26/2010

Print Headline: REVIEW Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

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