"You never understood that touching can be part of the treatment."
It would appear Hell hath no fury like the scorn of a Swedish woman. Well, perhaps not all of them, but at least ones of the diminutive, tattoo adorned variety. The pint-sized computer hacker--star of three novels (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO; GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE; GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEXT) and the subsequent films is everywhere nowadays; Lisbeth Salander has become part of the common vernacular. Salander is an odd (or fresh?) woman to idolize: A bisexual renegade; a literary neophyte who's happier in front of a computer screen than in a group of people.
This is a slower paced film than its predecessors. TATTOO delved into a decades old mystery, littered with murder and sex; NEST is largely a courtroom drama. The story begins immediately where FIRE left off: Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been shot in the head, buried, and left for dead. Her life is saved but another battle arises as she's tried for the deaths of two reporters. Salander is largely absent from the action; it's left up to Mikael Blomkvist--the journalist for Millennium magazine--to fill in the blanks and uncover the the political conspiracies. This is the movie's biggest flaw. With every scene she's in, Salander is the proverbial spark plug: she injects energy with every word and action. Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is capable; with Salander sidelined to a hospital bed for half the film, ultimately it's impossible to recreate the vibrancy.
The successive narrative is driven by the title of the first Swedish novel: Men Who Hate Women. Salander suffers some horrendous acts throughout the saga, both physical and psychological. Revenge becomes a personal plot device and is something we hope to witness. Perhaps the popularity is due to Salander acting as some sort of rallying cry.
Stieg Larsson--whose books have sold over 27 million copies--never lived to witness the fruits of his labours, having died from an apparent heart attack before the first was published. There is speculation that foul play was involved being that he was heavily associated with exposing extremist groups through his work at Expo magazine. Whether his death was a byproduct of the threats from political enemies or simply a faulty organ, it's a shame the man didn't get to see the the materialization of his words. A fourth story was nearly completed, as well the as manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in what was envisioned to be a ten-part series.
HORNET offers flashbacks to clear up any cloudiness for first-time viewers, but it's recommended to see all three films to properly digest the often confusing names and places. Not surprisingly, Hollywood has already cast its iteration of the Scandinavian chronicle. Daniel Craig (LAYER CAKE) and Rooney Mara (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) will star as Blomkvist and Salander respectively. The Millennium trilogy won't break any records; it's not genre defining by any means. Regardless, it's worth seeing, for Rapace's Lisbeth Salander alone. She is a notable, brave character; one that I suspect will be in our consciousness for the foreseeable future.