Pub­lish or per­ish

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards

The Girl Who Kicked the Hor­nets’ Nest, thriller, rated R, in Swedish with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 3.5 chiles

It’s the biggest thing out of Swe­den since the Volvo, meat­balls, Bjorn Borg, and Anita Ek­berg. It’s Stieg Lars­son’s Mil­len­nium tril­ogy, which be­gan with The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too and con­cludes with The Girl Who Kicked the Hor­nets’ Nest. Lars­son never lived to see his enor­mous suc­cess — all three nov­els have be­come huge in­ter­na­tional best­sellers, with more than 20 mil­lion copies sold in 41 coun­tries. The three Swedish movie adap­ta­tions are box-of­fice and crit­i­cal hits, and Hollywood is ready to snatch the ba­ton and run an­other lap, with David Fincher ( The So­cial Net­work) at the helm.

And then there’s the lap­top. In a devel­op­ment wor­thy of Lars­son’s plots, a fourth and pos­si­bly part of a fifth novel in the se­ries ap­par­ently lies buried in his lap­top. But here’s the twist. The lap­top is in the pos­ses­sion of Eva Gabriels­son, Lars­son’s life part­ner for more than 30 years. Lars­son and Gabriels­son never mar­ried. He died sud­denly with­out a will, and un­der Swedish law his es­tate has gone to his fa­ther and brother. Ac­cord­ing to Gabriels­son, Stieg wasn’t par­tic­u­larly close to his fam­ily, and she’s not let­ting the new manuscripts out un­til they hand over to her the rights to the Mil­len­nium se­ries. They’ve of­fered a cash set­tle­ment. She doesn’t want their money. So far they haven’t snatched the lap­top, the way the bad guys do in this movie.

But you want to know about the movie. It picks up where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. And that one left off like a Dal­las sea­son-end­ing cliffhanger, with its hero­ine Lis­beth Sa­lan­der (Noomi Ra­pace) shot and buried in a shal­low grave.

Ac­tu­ally, peo­ple did dig her up and find a pulse at the end of the pre­vi­ous movie, so here we start with Sa­lan­der in the hos­pi­tal and some nice graphic footage of brain surgery. Di­rec­tor Daniel Al­fred­son and screen­writ­ers Jonas Fryk­berg and Ulf Ry­berg do a lit­tle house­keep­ing, try­ing to bring the unini­ti­ated up to speed with quick up­dates of the pre­vi­ous ac­tion. But if you haven’t seen the first two films, it would be a good idea to di­gest them be­fore you walk into the third act. It’s like go­ing back to school for your ju­nior year — by now you know peo­ple, you have friends, you’re com­fort­able with the lay­out, and you’re ea­ger to see where new events will take you.

The per­pe­tra­tors of the nas­ti­ness in part two were Sa­lan­der’s fa­ther, the evil Rus­sian de­fec­tor Zalachenko (Ge­orgi Stakov) and her half-brother, the moun­tain­ous, white-haired Ron­ald Nei­der­mann (Micke Spre­itz, a bit rem­i­nis­cent of the great Robert Shaw in From Rus­sia With Love). Nei­der­mann has es­caped, and Zalachenko has an ax in his skull, cour­tesy of his daugh­ter’s vig­or­ous self­de­fense. He is in a hos­pi­tal room just down the cor­ri­dor from Sa­lan­der.

All this mess cre­ates un­ease for the men in­volved in a shad­owy ex­tra-gov­ern­men­tal se­cu­rity out­fit, known here only as The Sec­tion. For rea­sons that be­come more or less clear as these old war­riors meet for tea, dial­y­sis, and dis­pas­sion­ate plot­ting, Zalachenko and Sa­lan­der are loose ends who will re­quire ex­treme prej­u­dice to clean up.

Mikael “Micke” Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), the cru­sad­ing in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter for Mil­len­nium mag­a­zine, is mad as hell, and he is ready to de­vote an en­tire edi­tion of the mag­a­zine to clear­ing Sa­lan­der’s name and ex­pos­ing the vil­lains who have con­spired to ruin her life. Chief among them is the weaselly psy­chi­a­trist Peter Tele­bo­rian (An­ders Ahlbom), who is in ca­hoots with the shad­owy men and has some deep dark shad­ows of his own. Mil­len­nium is sched­uled to hit the stands as her trial opens. But when you’re play­ing in these leagues, the stakes can be ter­mi­nal, and Micke’s pub­lisher and some­time lover Erika Berger (Lena En­dre) gets cold feet when she starts re­ceiv­ing threat­en­ing emails and bricks flung through her win­dow. “No job is worth dy­ing for,” she ob­serves.

Sa­lan­der spends a good deal of this movie in a hos­pi­tal bed, and then in a court­room, and she and Micke never come face to face un­til the end, so the movie’s ac­tion and ten­sion have to come from other di­rec­tions. Al­fred­son builds that ten­sion ex­pertly, cred­it­ing his au­di­ence with the in­tel­li­gence and pa­tience to bear with him as he metic­u­lously as­sem­bles his scenes and sets his ducks in a row. The movie is beau­ti­fully pho­tographed by Peter Mokrosin­ski with a chilly pal­ette of grays and blues, and Ja­cob Groth’s score adds to the over­all at­mos­phere.

The cast is as good as ever, and as ever, Ra­pace dom­i­nates with her sus­pi­cious, sullen watch­ful­ness. Tele­bo­rian de­scribes Sa­lan­der’s con­di­tion as para­noid schizophre­nia, but we know bet­ter. When she strides into court in full goth mode, it’s a brac­ing thing to see. Sa­lan­der fi­nally does get to break out in an ac­tion show­down se­quence near the end with the pain-chal­lenged Nie­der­mann, and it’s one of the film’s few dis­ap­point­ments that the scene doesn’t go quite ex­hil­a­rat­ingly crazy enough.

The Hollywood leads are now set, with Daniel Craig as Micke and Rooney Mara (the girl in the open­ing scene of The So­cial Net­work) step­ping into Ra­pace’s stilet­tos. Mara comes from a foot­ball fam­ily (her great-grand­fa­ther was the founder of the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers), and she’ll need all that tough­ness to deal with the chal­lenge of com­ing off the bench for the ac­tress who has made this role a leg­end.

Fade to black eye­liner: Noomi Ra­pace

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.