AKA: Luftslottet som sprängdes, The Castle In The Sky That Was Blown Up
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Legal Drama
Year Released: 2009
Distributor: Music Box Films
Running Time: 147 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: R
Related Films/Series: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011 American Remake), Millennium, The Girl in the Spider’s Web
For Fans Of: Storm, Monster (Naoki Urasawa anime), Omagh, The Girl On The Train, Millennium Trilogy
-The Swedish track was used for this review.
-This is the final film in the Millennium Trilogy. Watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire are required before viewing this film. There will be spoilers involving the events in prior films.
-This review is dedicated to Michael Nyqvist who played Mikael Blomqvist. He died of lung cancer in late June. RIP Michael Nyqvist: 11/8/1960-6/27/2017.
-Evert Gullberg, the gunman in the hospital scene is played by Hans “Hasse” Alfredson who is the father of Daniel Alfredson who directed The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire. What a strange family connection given Gullberg’s actions…
-This was the last living role of Per Oscarsson who played Holger Palmgren. The film was dedicated to him.
-The original Swedish title can literally mean “Castle In The Sky” (insert Studio Ghibli joke), but it has a metaphorical meaning of a pipe dream or a pie in the sky in their language.
This is it, everyone. I finally reviewed my first trilogy. I should get something nice for doing this. Does anyone want to give me a present or something? Okay, I’m joking. You can check out the other reviews in the Millennium series in the “Related Films/Series” section to see what I thought of the previous two films in this thriller trilogy.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest kicks off right after the events of The Girl Who Played With Fire after the battle between Lisbeth against Alexander “Zala” Zalachenko and Ronald Niedermann. Zalachenko and Lisbeth are both quite bloodied and are airlifted into a hospital in Gothenburg. In the meantime, Mikael is publishing a full issue of Millennium which will be Lisbeth’s autobiography as a means to help acquit her for the murders of the new journalists and Nils Bjurman. The police are on a huge manhunt to arrest Lisbeth including a new charge to the case: the attempted murder of Zalachenko, her very own father as revealed in the final act of the previous movie.
Watching Hornet’s Nest was a change of pace from the previous two films and part of it had to do with Lisbeth’s condition. She’s either in the hospital or in court for a good portion of her scenes. Sure, she does get one fight scene very late in the film, but the plot emphasizes her convalescence, finding evidence to clear her name, and the actual court case where she’s faced with her old adversary Peter Teleborian who’s responsible for not only institutionalizing her as a child after she threw a fire bomb at her father, but he also abused her while she was in a mental hospital. It was a bit frustrating but I can at least understand the situation. They didn’t want to make her look superhuman or a Mary Sue, so there’s a good explanation here. The acting she does is still good. When she hears that Zalachenko got assassinated in the same hospital, all she does is flash this huge smile without saying anything. It was creepy given that she rarely smiles, but completely justified given the abuse she suffered under him.
The drama in finding the evidence while also trying to expose The Section. That group consists of high-ranking Swedish officials, cops, and other such personnel who protected Zalachenko once he emigrated over to Sweden from the former Soviet Union. They are also some of the same people who are implied to have used trafficked prostitutes with no one indicting them. I must admit a storyline like that would never fly in a Hollywood mainstream film. Could you imagine if a filmmaker in America used an angle of American cops getting involved in sex trafficking, murder, and corruption for a movie? They’d be labeled as anti-police and get their movie banned stateside in a heartbeat. The political scandals did intrigue me because I’ve rarely seen them from villains who are from the same country as the creator of this trilogy. There are good twists and turns with Zalachenko’s death early on throwing a huge monkey wrench into the whole legal situation as The Section tries to maintain a concealed power in Swedish politics and policing.
Mikael is working his hardest to clear Lisbeth, but Millennium gets death threats and some goons are sent to incapacitate him and the rest of the journalists involved. Some of it was a rehash of The Girl Who Played With Fire, but there were more than enough plot twists to keep it fresh and unique though. I do confess that one disappointment was the chemistry between Mikael and Lisbeth wasn’t as strong. While both characters have great acting performances, their long separation hurt the dynamics between the two leading protagonists. It made more sense in the previous movie, but it was overkill for The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.
With Zalachenko out of the picture, one can argue that the real villain of this film would be Peter Teleborian hands down. He didn’t have much of a presence in the previous film, but he plays a much bigger role here. Teleborian wants to convict Lisbeth, so he can institutionalize her for life with a murder charge. I will admit that the acting for his character was better than some people give him credit for. One scene was where he’s explaining why Lisbeth should be committed to her current doctor Dr. Jonasson. He just casually embellishes her mental condition while briefly smiling as he gives reasons why she should be put away. I liked the subtlety in his performance as he shows underlying sadism in wanting Lisbeth to be put in a straight jacket for the rest of her days.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest did dull me in some parts. The film does meander in its plot and the final act, while satisfying to see Teleborian getting his just desserts, some elements were just thrown in like the last fight scene with Niedermann. The legal drama aspect will bore some viewers who were more accustomed to the more action-oriented scenes in the previous two films. The fact that Lisbeth is in a hospital bed for most of the first half of the movie can be disappointing. Much like a minor quip with The Girl Who Played With Fire, what does Wasp have to do with Lisbeth? They never explain that group which makes Lisbeth’s benefactors in getting her apartment a big-lipped alligator moment. Wow, I can’t believe I referenced an infamous scene in All Dogs Go To Heaven for the Millennium Trilogy as a comparison point. I fail as a reviewer. There’s also no explanation for how Lisbeth got the dragon tattoo in the first place. I get some of the artistic metaphors with it or how parts of the “dragon” are on her ankles and such, but there’s nothing that’s mentioned. Another big complaint from most reviewers is that the film is quite slow. I’m not going to disagree with them, but the other films weren’t filmed or plotted at breakneck paces. The hospital and court scenes can drag, but I will admit that I did like the subplot in exposing The Section given how brave a storyline like that would be and how they directly and indirectly ruined the main characters’ lives.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but despite The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest’s flaws, I did enjoy this movie. The final part of the trilogy was nowhere near as good as the first movie, but some of the disdain was unwarranted. I found the evidence to clear Lisbeth to be intriguing and the villains were quite threatening not because of their physical power, but of their legal power as they have gotten away with several crimes that no Joe Shmoe would be able to walk free from. I did like the plot twists and elements of danger even though they were more subtle. Despite the score I’m going to give it, I thought it was slightly better than The Girl Who Played With Fire. I thought the legal scenes did work for all intents and purposes. While the ending could’ve been more satisfying, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is far from a bad movie.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you’re a Millennium Trilogy fan
Subtract 3 points if you hate legal dramas or court scenes as major plot elements
-The plot twists in the case against The Section
-Teleborian is a major legal threat to Lisbeth
-Very slow pacing
-Diminished chemistry with Mikael and Lisbeth
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: Once again, since this is the Millennium Trilogy…mature audiences only! They do tone down the language and some of the violence, but it still gets intense. There are some deaths including suicide by gunshot early in the film. The rape elements get brought up and they use Lisbeth’s hidden camera of Bjurman sexually assaulting her as evidence in court. One of the villains in this film has a child pornography collection which he eventually gets busted for once Plague (Lisbeth’s computer genius friend) hacks into their computer.
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