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The Independent Critic

Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Anders Ahlbom, Georgi Staykov
Daniel Alfredson
Jonas Frykberg, Ulf Ryberg, Stieg Larsson (Novels)
Rated R
148 Mins.
Music Box Films

 "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" Review 
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If only to once again visit with Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a practical must see cinematic experience.

Salander reminds me of a friend of mine, Scream Queen Tara Cardinal, an actress who has turned her life experiences into a sort of kick ass heroine and voice for the voiceless. Based upon the third novel in a trilogy by Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest wraps up the story of Salander, a consummate survivor and wounded soul who is laying in intensive care as the film opens with a gunshot wound to the head received from the bloody confrontation with her father and half-brother that ended the second film, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

If the Academy would ever award a Best Actress Award for a foreign film, it would be Rapace's incredible performance as Salander that would warrant such recognition. For three films, Rapace has held us captive with her vulnerability, twisted bravado, quiet intelligence and absolute magnetism. Even when The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest drones on with scene after scene of dialogue throughout its too long 148-minute run time, you can't help but be drawn to Rapace, who embodies Salander with all her guts, glory and grace intact.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a tense film, a film that will resonate with survivors of childhood trauma for the ways in which it portrays the world in which a system fails, a system is corrupt and a child's life is left to the whims of a self-interested system. If you've ever wanted to be that person who calls out a system, speaks out about corruption or fights for truth and justice, then The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a film for you.

In addition to finding justice with her own past, Salander seeks to expose the tattered soul of a secretly savage Sweden, a nation whose national security is corrupted by a rogue police society called The Section. The Section would very much like for Salander's voice to be silence, and is willing to do just about anything to ensure that happens. Salander is aided once again by Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist who shared a deep affection for Salander in the first film but who seems now as guided by truth and justice as she is. Nyqvist is once again stellar, a steely nerved yet human journalist who is deeply in over his head and knows it. When fellow writers for his publication begin receiving threats over their continued persistence, Nyqvist beautifully suggests both Mikael's concern for his peers yet his determination to continue at all costs.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest most definitely falls short of the exceptional opening film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and was my least favorite of the three films. However, those who can appreciate the suspenseful courtroom scenes and simply embrace Rapace's exceptional performance may very well consider it on part with the second film despite being a good 25 minutes too long.

Anders Ahlbom is the calm picture of evil as Dr. Teleborian, the psychiatrist who "treated" Salander as a 12-year-old and who now will re-enter the picture as The Section plots to silence Salander once and for all. Dr. Teleborian is a villain you will love to hate, while Mikael Spreitz's turn as Niedermann will haunt you long after the closing credits have rolled by.

As much as this film does contain flashbacks designed to allow a new viewer to the trilogy to connect to the story, there's little denying that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest will resonate most deeply with those who have viewed the first two films and/or at least read the novels upon which the films are based. It is rumored that there are two unfinished novels that Larsson left when he passed away not long after finishing this trilogy, and while I don't say this often Lisbeth Salander remains a character with stories to be told.

As one might expect, Hollywood is fast at work on an Americanized version of this Swedish (and Swedish language) film, with Rooney Mara in the role of Salander and Daniel Craig to show up as Blomkvist. The American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo should show up in theatres by late 2011. Don't wait! While Mara's a fine actress, it's hard to picture an actress as captivating and haunting as the simply awesome Noomi Rapace.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic