Watching The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the stunning and satisfying final chapter of the Millennium series, leaves one question: Who is Lisbeth Salander? Not the character, played brilliantly by Noomi Rapace, but rather Lisbeth Salander, the metaphor. Is she innocence violated by corruption? Is she inconformity railing against totalitarianism? Or is she everywoman, psychologically and physically abused by men of power?
Unfortunately, we'll never know. Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author of the source material, died of a heart attack in 2004. To date, his Millennium trilogy has sold 27 million copies in 40 countries and the movie adaptations have been global successes.
It would be a mistake to compare any of the Girl movies to crime dramas that fill the airwaves of network television (CSI, Law and Order). Rather, Hornet's Nest and its predecessors are more in the style of classic big screen potboilers: Klute, The Parallax View, Seven. It is dark and grueling but always compelling.
Rapace's, performance is crafted with cool elegance and layered vulnerability.
Hornet's Nest opens where its prequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, ended. Lisbeth is clinging to life, with a bullet in her head and two more in her shoulder and hip. She literally rose from a grave to put an axe in her evil father's skull. This time, Lisbeth battles an evil psychiatrist, secret police and corruption at the highest levels of Sweden's government. Her advocate, again, is crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). He risks everything, personally and professionally, to protect and defend Lisbeth. But since their inappropriate relationship in the first novel/movie, he operates at arm's length.
By now, most know that an English-language version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has begun filming, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. But between now and when it's released, don't be terribly surprised if Noomi Rapace is singled out for an Oscar nomination. For which film? It doesn't matter. They are all worthy.
Other hits ... or misses
Unstoppable--Stars Denzel Washington. Mr. Washington, this is a high speed train. Mr. Train, this is Mr. Washington. He's a two-time Oscar winner. Now, one of you will have to lose this challenge.
Morning Glory--Stars Harrison Ford. Mr. Ford, this is your career. Career, this is Mr. Ford. Now one of you will have to step up your game.
Skyline--Stars a bunch of aliens. Mr. Alien, this is Earth. Earth, this is ... oh, whatever.