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Hornets Nest a fitting end to trilogy
Annika Hallin, left, and Noomi Rapace star in "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest." The final film in the Millenium trilogy doesn’t quite have the mystery and intrigue or the action of the first two films, but stands in its own right.

‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre

Rated: R for strong violence, some sexual material and brief language.

Runtime: 2 hours, 28 minutes

Bottomline: Not a perfect film, but a satisfying ending.

One of the most exciting movie events of the decade is entering its endgame this month. The last chapter of the Millenium trilogy, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," hits limited theatrical release this week and will hopefully spread out over the coming weeks.

Without giving away too much to those who haven't yet seen the second film, "The Girl Who Played With Fire," this third installment opens with Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) in the hospital in critical condition. Her injuries should have killed her, but she has somehow kept herself alive with a will that is much larger than her petite physical frame.

She is also accused of murder, and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), assisted by his co-editor Erika Berger (Lena Endre) and their Millenium reporters, is determined to prove her innocence.

Blomkvist's investigation, however, threatens to uncover a mysterious conspiracy that reaches high levels of the Swedish government, and a secretive group of intelligence operatives are trying to stop Lisbeth and the Millenium reporters from uncovering the truth-no matter what it takes.

If you're under the impression that all Swedish films are artsy and slow, that synopsis should set you straight. This is not Ingmar Bergman, the grand master of philosophical filmmaking. This trilogy entered the realm of pulp early in the second film. It just happens to be supremely well-made and entertaining pulp.

When film historians write about the decade of the 2000s, regardless whether they call it the Noughts, the Aughts, or something else, they are going to have to cite the Millenium phenomenon, both the movies and the Stieg Larsson novels that inspired them, as one of the defining events of the period.

Neither the second nor third films of the series match the complexity and intrigue of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The second film offered the most action of the trilogy and is probably the most purely entertaining of the bunch.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" sets its sights squarely on Lisbeth and the tragic past that created this "girl," who has become one of the most fascinating fictional characters of our time.

"Hornet's Nest" climaxes with a lengthy trial sequence, which I find a questionable choice. Even though it makes sense given the way Lisbeth's status has been in doubt in so many ways throughout the trilogy, a trial isn't the most exciting way to end a series built on murder investigations and action scenes. Just when the series should kick into overdrive, it somewhat shifts into cruise control.

But in all other ways, this is a fitting end to a fascinating ride.

Only, for Americans it doesn't feel like the end at all. Rapace has become one of the biggest stars on the planet, and we're about to see much more of her. She's currently filming the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel, then she'll star in Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel.

And we're about to see more of Lisbeth Salander, but played by Rooney Mara ("The Social Network"). David Fincher is directing the Hollywood remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and after a long, controversial casting search, Fincher chose little-known Mara to star alongside Daniel Craig.

Fincher is keeping the production under tight media control, but the American "Dragon Tattoo" is no doubt going to be covered more closely than any remake, maybe ever. The latest news is that Craig's schedule is causing delays. Mara is currently forbidden from making public appearances but has apparently been pierced in various places. And rumor has it she's hiding out in a Stockholm apartment preparing for the role.

No, we haven't by any stretch heard the last about Lisbeth, Micke and the shadowy forces conspiring against them.

Be on the lookout for a theater showing "Hornet's Nest," and in the meantime catch up on the previous two films, which are both on DVD.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.