The Girls Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the conclusion of The Millenium Trilogy based on the books by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. The previous films are The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. All three films are centered on journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. In those films we get to know a great deal about Lisbeth’s background and victimization which has formed an strong sense of rage within her. At the end of The Girl Who Played with Fire, both she and her father are being medevaced to the hospital after they have tried to kill each other. This film picks up right at that point.
This time around, it is Mikael who is trying save Lisbeth. She has been charged with attempted murder. In Played with Fire, we discovered that there has been a complicated secret government plot involving her father. To defend Lisbeth, the plot must be fully uncovered and those involved must answer for what they have done to her in the process.
This is perhaps the weakest of the three films of the trilogy. It never develops the kind of sustained sense of mystery that the first two films have. There are no major revelations this time around. Rather this film seems to be the drawing together of all the pieces of the puzzle.
One of the themes throughout the films is the difference of appearance and reality. Those involved in the cover-up have an outward respectability, but that belies the darkness that is within them. This theme is often turned around by Lisbeth’s exterior. Her vulnerability is covered by her Goth style. To be sure, there is truly a toughness within her, but that is an outgrowth of the many ways she has been victimized. When her trial begins she is dressed fully in leather and metal – all her piercings are on display. In some ways this makes her look menacing. But we have to wonder why she would choose this look for such a serious time. It is as though she is wearing a mask. Which of her faces is the real Lisbeth?
Outward appearance can be deceptive. In the story of David, we are told that when Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to find a new king, all of David’s older brothers were impressive, while David was still just a boy. Samuel was told that people “look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We are often challenged to see beneath the outward appearance. As in Lisbeth’s case, we may see only the mask. We may see only a veneer of respectability or the clothing of poverty and assume that tells us the nature of the person. Love and justice require that we also not limit ourselves to looking at the outward appearance.