What started off as something rather unknown and unassuming has come full circle, and reached as satisfactory a conclusion as could be hoped for. The story of ‘The Girl,’ the hacker with sleuthing skill beyond expectation becomes the focus in the final instalment, where the injustices against her are brought to trial, but not without some daft low-rent action distractions en route.
First things first: those approaching the series for the first time are directed elsewhere, because this conclusion won’t make a blind bit of sense otherwise. The story picks up straight where the second one left off, leaving us slap bang in the middle of a bloody standoff, with Lisbet splatterd and dazed like some misplaced ‘last girl left’ evacuee from a horror film. When the next scene cuts to The Shady Conspiracy of Old Men discussing how best to silence a rogue agent, well that won’t make a jot of sense without any context. To the unprompted eye it’s just a living room full of aged Swedish actors (predominantly off the telly) discussing a ‘problem’ over some coffee. Not so much Jason Bourne, more like afternoon tea with my grandparents.
But where the weakness of the second installment lay in the shonky action sequences and general Bond-villian driven nonsense, the final film draws in some of the files-and-archives detective work of the first film to strike a tolerable middle ground. The story is split between the detective work of the journalists trying to patch together Lisbeth’s past for the case against the state, all while the shadowy agents of the very same system work desperately to cover their tracks. You wouldn’t know it from the start, but the film quickly sets about building some momentum towards a knockout courtroom confrontation.
Considering how anemic the Swedish legal system is in dramatic terms (think beige conferences suites, not wigs, gavels, and screaming lawyers) the film still manages to coax out some explosive confrontations as the film turns towards the dismantling of the titular Air Castle** of the original Swedish title. Having been through five hours of one hacker against the whole Swedish-model-of-social-responsibility-GONE-WRONG, well safe to say it’s quite cathartic to see it all so meticulously demolished, misogynist prick by misogynist prick.
Neither of the sequels ever hits the sure-footedness of the first film, but if you’ve come this far then you’d be daft not to catch the final installment. Just don’t make this the last Swedish film you see in the next five years…
Three out of Five.
[Note to Cinemas: please don’t make this the last Swedish film you screen for the next five years]
[Note to the Swedish Film Industry: please don’t make this the only film worth screening in the next five years. Seriously.]
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is showing at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield from the 26th of November 2010
** As with the Swedish titles of the previous installments, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest bears bugger all resemblance to the original: Luftslottet Som Sprängdes, which in literal translation is The Air-Castle Which Exploded. The term Luftslott/Air-Castle is an odd one, broadly speaking a lofty notion or institution built effectively on nothing but hot air. So to modify a straight forward translation that was suggested to me, consider The Bubble Which Blew Up. Or to take a further liberty: The Exploded Pie in the Sky. Now that would make a snappy title.