With its plodding pace and its insistence on peremptory exposition, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest resembles the final installment of any trilogy: It simultaneously defuses and satisfies fans of the franchise. Hornet's Nest caps off what could be called the Swedish feminist version of Great Britain's Red Riding crime saga, which, unfortunately, isn't as provocative as it sounds.
This courtroom drama/conspiracy epic loses its way early. There's a refreshing moment when a journalist debunks the notion of a vast national conspiracy because politicians can't keep secrets and love to write tell-all memoirs. But she immediately ignores her own common-sense advice by claiming that if such a thing were possible, then the conspiracy would have to be extra-secret and selective. Okay, that's a ridiculous turn, but do the conspirators have to be so ... old?
Most of the film recounts these wheezy puppet masters' attempts to lock away resilient, spiky-haired heroine Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) on the grounds of "legal incompetence." The old men are harmless enough, but they are obscured by two wickedly banal villains: a psychologist and a bleach-blond psychopath who, in a sick, recurring visual "joke," is always staring off into space while some poor weeping female captive sits next to him.
Salander's revenge-fueled heroics are limited to one brief training montage and some leg exercises in the hospital, with the exception of a gratuitous showdown in an abandoned brick factory that delivers some context-free thrills.
Opening Friday, November 19th, Ridgeway Four