What started with a bang with the highly effective serial killer mystery, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, has ended with a whimper with the third and final installment, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, the second longest and least satisfying of the three film versions of Stieg Larsson's million-selling Millennium trilogy of books. To paraphrase Variety, it's been a series of diminishing returns.
Originally made for Swedish television, those roots are never more apparent then in this third film which would be much better suited to a screening over two nights on SBS than one 142 minute session at your local cinema. Hornet's Nest also makes abundantly clear just how uninteresting the character of crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (and, if we're being honest, actor Michael Nyqvist) really is.
But then, the real star of the Millenium series, books and films, has always been Lisbeth Salander, and Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who returns once again and in fine form. That's even as Salander is recovering in hospital from the bullet wounds inflicted by her father, Soviet defector Zalachenko, and her half brother during the climax of the second film, The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Once recovered, it's off to prison to await trial on the attempted murder of said father and possible incarceration in a psychiatric institution, most likely the same one she was sentenced to as a child when she first attempted to kill her father in an effort to stop him beating her mother.
Other men, mostly government and security officials, were involved with silencing Salander to protect Zalachenko and their interests, and it's Blomkvist who must uncover these mens' identities and reveal their past injustices if he is to save her. Friendly tip: if you've not read the books or seen the first two films, this is not the place to start.
All of this could be thrilling, and may very well be in the book, but as directed by Daniel Alfredson, who also directed The Girl Who Played With Fire but significantly not Tattoo, it's all rather plodding, with far too much exposition and not nearly enough action – or Salander.
It reaffirms my belief that David Fincher (and Sony Pictures) would be wise to make his version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (currently filming in Sweden and due for release this December) a stand alone thriller. The sequels, while perfectly suited to Stieg Larsson's literary intent to shine a light on the ugly underbelly of Swedish society, are, in my opinion, unnecessary in the Hollywood version.
But there is an audience for these films and I can understand that many, most likely fans of the books, will rock up to The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest if only for a sense of closure. Despite the efforts of Noomi Rapace, saying a final farewell won't prove as difficult as it should have.