Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" is the latest installment of the Lisbeth Salander "Millenium" Trilogy directed by Daniel Alfredson. The film opens with a dreamy image of fire coupled with the sound of a scream that could just as well be the start of a David Lynch film. It is a riveting hook.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is nearly lifeless on a hospital bed with three bullet wounds. But as the primary hero, we know she'll be okay. Her father is a Russian agent and a horrible sadist/rapist. In the previous film, Lisbeth as a cyber-sleuth and Goth crusader had to take matters in her own hands and try to dispose of her maniac father. Given that he is built like a Minotaur with a face like a cauliflower and a sociopathic beast, we don't blame her.

The deadly dad now lies across the hall, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Bond villain Blofield. Suddenly another agent enters the room and shoots Lisbeth's father through the head and there is one less member of a very dysfunctional family. But will Sweden's criminal ring ever be uncovered? And will Lisbeth ever have closure and be recognized as a sister of Edward Scissorhands, possessing sound mind and body?
It doesn't really matter. The fun is in the watching. Demure and darkly delicious, Lisbeth is the most compelling character in the series. She is part video vixen, part Pippi Longstocking, part cyberpunk. And nothing gets past her. The full length dragon tattoo along her back is an existential shield, embodying her survival in a violent but equally picturesque Sweden.

Her main adversary in this film is her shadowy pale and murderous half brother, Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz) The nearly mute relative seems a direct cousin to the frightful albino monk in "The Da Vinci Code" with even a bit of Michael Myers added for menacing measure. Brother Ronald doesn't walk so much as stalk. A true Boogeyman, without emotion, Ronald has the added advantage (or disadvantage) of being unable to feel physical pain. When Lisbeth luckily drills him in the foot, we are shocked because Ronald becomes as harmless as a Bugs Bunny cartoon despite his malevolence. He is like the killer in "Scream" that misses his footing.

Ultimately, the lasting power in the film is the laconic charisma of Noomi Rapace and the aloof sensual power that she brings to her role. When she is perched in a moonlit window as Lisbeth Salander, Rapace is as iconic as Batman; but she echoes Edward scissorhands as much as The Dark Knight---by standing guard over a corrupt city, her Mohawk is held high in sly ridicule against a bland conformist waterfront.

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