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‘Hornet’s Nest’ is commendable final entry of ‘Millennium’ trilogy

‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ Pitchforks: 4 out of 5 Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace and Lena Endre Rating: R Opens: Oct. 29

Lisbeth Salander is one of the great female protagonists of any entertainment medium, be it film or literature. It’s hard to think of a recent fictional heroine who has embodied such nonconformity and confidence as Lisbeth, who dresses like a Kiss groupie to a trial without second thought.

Noomi Rapace has lived this part throughout the “Millennium” trilogy, based on Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novels about abusive men and women who don’t take crap. The films were released in Sweden in 2009 and have come out in America throughout this year. In “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” little was learned about Lisbeth’s mysterious past. In “The Girl Who Played With Fire” we discovered Lisbeth’s history with her abusive father. Now her story comes full circle in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” a commendable final entry of this series.

The films picks up where “The Girl Who Played With Fire” left off. Lisbeth is recuperating in the hospital after a shooting. Once Lisbeth is released she will have to face a judge for the attempted murder of her father Zalachenko, who is recovering from an ax to the head. Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth’s dedicated friend and on-and-off lover once again played by Michael Nyqvist, works diligently to get her exonerated. All the while, Lisbeth’s lethal half-brother, Ronald Niedermann, is still on the loose.

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” isn’t quite as action driven as the first two “Millennium” chapters. It’s more along the lines of a courtroom drama.

As a courtroom drama, the film still works as a suspenseful and exciting thriller that keeps the audience consistently on their toes. After three films the audience has become genuinely invested in the fate of these characters, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” does not disappoint in the outcome of their story.

If there’s one problem with the film, it’s that there aren’t quite enough scenes between Lisbeth and Mikael. In the “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” they shared a fascinating partnership as two people who love each other but cannot engage in a romantic relationship. In “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and also “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” Lisbeth and Mikael are separated a majority of the time, which is kind of a missed opportunity.

That doesn’t mean they’re any less interesting as individual characters though. Lisbeth in particular is compelling as ever, despite being confined to a hospital room for a good chunk of the movie.

If I had to single out the best film of this trilogy, director Niels Arden Oplev’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is the clear favorite. Nevertheless, these two sequels from Daniel Alfredson are still pretty good.

Compared to other movie trilogies, “Millennium” is one of the best ever adapted to the screen. The only downside is that there will not be another entry to this series because of the death of Larsson. Rumor has it that Larsson was developing a fourth book at the time of his death in what might have been a ten part series. In that case I suppose “Millennium” is his unfinished masterpiece.

David Fincher, director of “The Social Network” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” is already working on an Americanized remake of the “Millennium” trilogy starring Daniel Craig and newcomer Rooney Mara. Quite frankly I’m more than optimistic about the project. I just hope the American remakes will not cause these original three films to fall through the cracks. This is a trilogy to seek out and, as a whole, is truly one of the cinematic achievements of the year.

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