Handier with a golf club than Tiger Woods’ wife, pierced more times than the Bayeux Tapestry and tougher to kill than an armour-plated cockroach, Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander has been one of this year’s most fascinating discoveries.
The final part of the Dragon Tattoo trilogy fails to match the standards set by Niels Arden Oplev’s series opener, but it’s a step up from the lacklustre The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Starting immediately where Fire finished, Hornet’s Nest kicks off with Salander (Noomi Rapace) under police guard in hospital.
Given Lisbeth ended Fire buried alive and riddled with bullets, things are looking up for our computer-hacking heroine.
Yet shadowy operatives are at work to have this leather-clad troublemaker silenced for good, along with the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), determined to tell her story in his left-leaning rag, Millennium.
Confining its most forceful character to a gurney doesn’t initially bode well for Daniel Alfredson’s yarn. But once Noomi is restored to her funky, punky glory, Hornets’ Nest buzzes with intrigue.
Courtroom melodrama, a showdown with Serbian gunmen and a final confrontation in an abandoned factory ensure we remain gripped throughout.
Ok, the budgetary limitations of this made-for-Swedish-TV production are obvious, while Mikael Spreitz’s hulking blond villain belongs in a Bond movie.
Yet co-writers Jonas Frykberg and Ulf Ryberg do a decent job condensing Larsson’s door-stopper, while Rapace – seen at one point using a nail gun as a lethal weapon – is once again an indelible screen presence.
Though talky and static in places, Nest satisfyingly wraps up an engrossing triptych, setting the bar high for David Fincher’s imminent remake(s). As ever, Rapace is ace.