I should state from the outset that I consider Stig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy not only tedious and derivative but also horrendously written insofar that, published posthumously, they were not subjected to the conventional, and often necessary, editing that publishers need to make in order to reign in an author’s self-indulgence. Therefore, as a viewer of the last instalment of the Swedish language version, I did approach the screening not only aware of how the film ended, rendering the experience entirely without any sense of tension, but with several reservations firmly ingrained.
As with the Harry Potter franchise, anyone who dares go to see The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest without having seen or read the two previous offerings (the majority of written content focusing on how many inches the screen takes up on Blomkvist’s laptop) will inevitably be left confused and, owing to the film’s poor construction, having to resist the urge to lapse into unconsciousness. With this in mind, I shan’t reiterate to the knowledgeable reader the events that have led to Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) recuperating from several gunshot wounds in hospital, or why Niedermann (Micke Spreitz) – otherwise known as James Bond’s Jaws – is still on the run, or who Zalachenko is or why and how Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) intends to clear Salander’s name… If the original literature was left in want of an editor, the synopsis is in dire need of one too.
To lay the blame at the foot of director David Alfredson would be somewhat misguided; he has trimmed slivers of excess fat from the novels but cannot escape the anti-climactic narrative strands and the severe lack of chemistry between its central protagonists, which had already existed in print. However, despite these obstacles, Alfredson has still concocted a lifeless, shapeless and limp adaptation; direction by numbers perfectly complimenting Larsson’s own hackneyed output, peppered with pious liberal philosophising. Commonly accepted as having been written for his own enjoyment, Larsson’s tremendous ego is thankfully quelled this time round, Mikael (an avatar of the author) failing for once to bed someone despite being a rather vacant bore. Lest we forget that in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mikael’s alpha-male status is made so concrete he even manages to penetrate Salander’s lesbianism, just in case we had doubted his sexual proficiency.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest will satisfy neither of its two key demographics; those who have only seen the series interpreted on screen or those who read the novels so avidly. Sadly, with David Fincher’s remake already underway, the lessons of history look set to be ignored once again, with scant opportunity to salvage the wreckage of The Millennium Trilogy.