The story of Lisbeth Salander comes to a satisfying close in this third entry of the original Swedish film series based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novels. Once again, deliberate pacing wins the day, with intricate plotting taking center stage rather than thriller genre trappings. If there's a downside, it's due to the author's choice to replace mystery with meaty courtroom dramatics. One can't help but feel a bit antsy, yet the few nail-biting sequences in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest keep the film's heartbeat alive. As was the case with the previous installments, the actors and the characters they inhabit will be the real draw for most viewers.
Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist continue to be the true stunners of the series. Rapace is given the tough task of being stationary for most of the film, as her Lisbeth character spends much of the time recovering in a hospital bed after escaping the murderous clutches of her father in The Girl Who Played With Fire. Soon the enigmatic character who has always stayed off the radar finds herself confined -- first to the hospital bed, then a jail, and finally the courtroom, where she's put on trial for attempted murder. Meanwhile, Nyqvist's Mikael Blomkvist character is working in tandem with his magazine and a government task force to clear Lisbeth's name and bust the conspiratorial group that has been running it through the mud.
It's no shock that everyone who deserves it gets theirs in the end. As for Lisbeth, the tough-as-nails punk aesthetic that gained her such notoriety is back in spades. Despite Rapace and Nyqvist basically being away from each other for two-thirds of most of the series, their reunion is treated with remarkably quiet restraint. The allure of the Blomkvist character continues to be a fascinating mixture of role and performance, this time oozing urgency as the belt is tightened around anything connected to Lisbeth. Other than the stars, Annika Hallin and Lena Endre lead a stellar supporting cast through the proceedings and help give a nice stamp on what has been one hell of a densely adapted series.