Luftslottet som Sprängdes (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest)
Cast: Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), Erika Berger (Lena Endre), Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin), Christer Malm (Jacob Ericksson), Malin Eriksson (Sofia Ledarp), Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl), Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), Monica Figurola (Mirja Turestedt)
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Theatrical release: 11/27/2009
DVD Date: 01/25/2011
Running Time: 147 minutes
Note(s): In Swedish with English subtitles. Screenplay adapted from the novel Luftslottet som Sprängdes (English title: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) by Stieg Larsson.
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Review: Luftslottet som Sprängdes is the third and final Swedish language film in the trilogy of thrillers adapted from the books by Stieg Larsson. The title, literally translated into English, means "The Air Castle that Blew Up"; an "air castle" is apparently conceptually equivalent to what we might call a "house of cards", something built with little support or foundation. It's actually a good title, and has several meanings within the film. As I have previously mentioned in my reviews of the first two films in the series, I haven't read the books — clearly I'm in a small minority here, as the The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which is the English language title of the third book, is still a bestseller over a year after it was published here in the US.
By way of background, I greatly enjoyed the first film, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, saying it "works supremely well as a suspense thriller." I was less enthusiastic about the second film, Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden, which I thought "lack[ed] the crispness and edginess of the first". It also featured a somewhat muddled storyline, and was far more of an action film than a suspenseful one.
This third film picks up moments after the events that concluded the second film. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is in surgery following a gunshot to her head, and assuming she recovers, she'll be put on trial for the attempted murder of her father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov). Meanwhile, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) of the magazine Millennium is determined to prove that Lisbeth is innocent — or at least not guilty — of the crime by publishing an account of her life.
Unlike the first film, which works as a stand-alone and can be enjoyed as such, this third film requires you to have seen the second. (Neither the second or third films have any plot continuity with the first, which I found disappointing. I really expected that somehow the storyline would come full circle and involve the Vanger family from the first film. Maybe it did and I missed something; if so, it was really subtle.) But while Män Som Hatar Kvinnor is suspenseful and Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden action-oriented, Luftslottet som Sprängdes is neither: it is more along the lines of a not-very-good episode of Law & Order, with an investigation of Lisbeth's alleged crimes followed by a trial in which the prosecution and defense present their respective cases. In short, it's pretty boring. Part, maybe much, of the problem is that Lisbeth is confined to a hospital room for much of the first 90 minutes or so of the film, and has little to do with what's going on around her. It is so clear that her character — and by extension, Noomi Rapace — is about the only reason to watch these films. When she's not on screen, the film drags. The courtroom scenes are interesting if not exactly riveting — Lisbeth has recovered enough to participate in her defense — but it's largely a case of too little too late here. At almost 2½ hours, Luftslottet som Sprängdes is far, far too long; maybe if the first half had been edited to a half hour or so, it would have improved the pacing. (English-language adapations of the books are in production by Sony. Though the studio claims they are not remakes, the screenwriter and director can learn a lot about what works from the original Swedish-language adaptations ... and more importantly, what doesn't.)
I wouldn't ordinarily recommend this film except to say that if you did watch Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden, you'll have to see Luftslottet som Sprängdes if only to discover how it all plays out. But be prepared for long stretches of very little going on. For those who hasn't seen any of the trilogy of films, I'd recommend watching the first, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, and skipping parts two and three.
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