Early on in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the movie version of the last chapter in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) lies in a hospital bed, a bullet having just been dug out of her brain. Her hair is lank, her face wiped clean of punk-raccoon makeup, and it’s a trip to see her that way because you behold, for maybe the first time, what a desolate lost waif she really is. Later, when she recovers and gets put on trial for murder, she decks herself out in her full dragon-girl regalia (piercings, greased mohawk, rough-trade leather), and it’s as if she’s suddenly put on a superhero costume. She’s dressed to kill.
Mostly, though, she’s killing time. In court, we hear, yet again, about all the bad things that have happened to her — her imprisonment in an asylum, her rape by an evil parole guardian — and there is much dry talk about ”the Section,” the murky top secret government faction that is somehow linked to the activities of her criminal father. The strange thing is, we learn almost nothing of substance about the Section (it remains a vague abstraction), and not much new about Lisbeth, either. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is mostly an epic rehash of the tale Larsson has already told, and that makes it, at two hours and 28 minutes, the first movie in the series that never catches fire. C