"The Girl Who Kicked A Hornet's Nest" is really more like "The Girl Who Played With Fire Part II" -- this movie begins mere minutes after the end of the previous one, and everything stems from the film before it. The third and final film adapted from Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is a taut, unnerving exploration of a government cover-up -- with the titular "girl" as their victim.
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been shot in the head, and is rushed to a hospital for surgery -- the same hospital as her evil father Zalachenko. And since she's still being framed for murder, Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) devotes the forthcoming issue of "Millennium" to clearing her name and revealing the government's dirty secrets (including how they had her institutionalized as a kid).
But when Zalachenko threatens to rat them out, the "Section" sends an assassin to shoot him. Unfortunately, this group also wants want to punish Lisbeth by sticking her in another mental home, and the pedophile director Teleborian is all too happy to lock her up. The best chance Lisbeth has is to send her own "autobiograpy" to Mikael.
It's not a whodunnit, and it's not a straight thriller. "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" is a slow-moving, complex affair, centering on powerful men who try to crush women who defy them, and a system filled with in corrupt muck, cruelty and murder. It's part legal drama, part conspiracy story, and part bloody thriller.
And while not as harrowing as the movies before it, this movie is a bleak tangled web of threats, evidence,stalkings, and the occasional gory death (along with the hysteria that accompanies them). As the story goes on, it tauter and frightening, buoyed up by Lisbeth's impassive defiance (she walks into her own trial in full goth-punk regalia!).
The one flaw? The last fifteen minutes feel disconnected from the rest of the film, and the last scene feels... anticlimactic, and vaguely unfinished. Then again, since Larsson intended to write ten books, perhaps the "unfinished" flavor is inevitable.
Rapace is silent for long stretches of the story, and her impassive face, deep eyes and leashed energy make her a presence even when she doesn't speak. Her Lisbeth is full of defiance against the world, and it can only be seen through her dress and her silence. Nyqvist is good but rather overshadowed by Rapace; Anders Ahlbom is wonderfully vile as Teleborian --it's INCREDIBLY satisfying to see the pedophile get torn apart.
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" ends on a "to be continued" note that will never be continued, but it's a satisfying end to the tale of Lisbeth Salander.