Yay! After the slight lull that was The Girl Who Played With Fire, it's gratifying to report that the final film in the trilogy has regained its footing and is a bolder, more assured affair. The previous instalment was cluttered with too many characters, but this follow-up is more focused and engrossing overall, thankfully jettisoning a couple of subplots from Stieg Larsson's bloated novel (for example, the plot strand involving editor Erika Berger's stalker, which was completely redundant to the main narrative and has more or less been cannily excised here). It also dispenses with yet another love interest for famed journalist Mikael Blomkvist. But he is still doggedly loyal to his former lover and acquaintance Lisbeth Salander.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest picks up directly from where the second film finished. Salander (Rapace) has been badly injured when defending herself from vicious villain Zalachenko (Staykov) and spends the first half of the tale confined to her hospital room. The authorities are determined to see her tried for attempted murder and the psychiatrist who treated her as a child, Dr Peter Teleborian (Rosendahl), is drafted in to give an evaluation of her. Can they prove that she is a murderer as well as a schizophrenic with behavioural problems ill equipped to deal with society? Or will Salander turn the tables on them, proving her worth and intelligence?
Blomqvist (Nyqvist) is certainly on her side, going all out to prove her innocence and working with agents to uncover a top secret governmental group that was instrumental in protecting Zalachenko at the expense of Salander years ago. They have many dark secrets and it's up to the heroine's intrepid cohorts to supply all the evidence while she sits in court calmly and slyly giving the lie to the psychological report that Teleborian has prepared.
It's a stronger, more cohesive piece than Part 2, consistently exciting and again with fine performances by all. Rapace, as ever, is terrific. The smile she gives when hearing of a character's fate while lying on her hospital bed is beautiful to witness, and in the long courtroom section, decked out in full punkish goth gear, she commands the attention effortlessly – a cold look in the eyes, a subtle glance at well-judged moments – making mincemeat of her antagonists in hugely pleasing fashion. Nyqvist is customarily solid and dependable as her trusted supporter while Rosendahl gives a good account of himself as the pigheaded and arrogant Teleborian.
Well paced and very suspenseful – the court case is rivetting – this is an immensely satisfying wrap up to the trilogy, a sharp thriller with smarts and skill delivered with confident panache. Well worth seeing. Mr Editor, can I have first dibs on the box set please? [Ed: No]