The Millennium Trilogy (A Collective Overview)

A satisfying film trilogy that contains maybe the best representation of a postmodernist anti-heroine personified as Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace): A strong will, adamant thoughts, an abstract sexuality and inclined towards technology.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev)

It's a rare treat to watch a thriller film that is both well-acted and written, especially building upon a character so refreshing and memorable that the mystery to be solved seem secondary. The eponymous character was played by Noomi Rapace in maybe one of the most overlooked performances in the past 5 years or so.

In a typical, run-off-the-mill thriller, the audiences were thrown with characters with recycled back stories so that they would not look paperweight in the more exciting scenes. An easy way out to make us care for them ('care', on that part, means not to be killed by the antagonist).

But that word appeals differently in this film, with its meaning not being extracted from the meager perils of the plot, but through emotions. It affects us through the protagonist's excruciating experiences that results in the complete draining of it all, and how she could bounce back from such.

If you look at the structure of the plot, it's fairly common, with the occasional twists and turns that sometimes look far-fetched. But putting dimensioned characters in the center of it all, it flows all too easy. If one would think that a happy ending seems out of place in such a dark-toned, violent film, look at the two main characters again and what they've gone through (Lisbeth and Mikael). They've certainly earned it.


The Girl Who Played with Fire (Daniel Alfredson)

Just when I thought things got a little better for Mikael and especially for Lisbeth in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, things started to get rougher in this gritty, though a bit laid back second installment in the “Millennium” trilogy.

As far as the narrative is concerned, there’s no connection whatsoever between the chief mystery in the first film with this one, but there’s also little exposition here involving characters such as Bjurman and Zala. So although “The Girl Who Played With Fire” is still a good watch all on its own, it’s further recommended to really watch the first film to really let the eponymous character, her relationship with journalist Mikael, and her inner struggles sink in unto one’s viewing consciousness. What’s exceptional in this film is its great maintenance of its thrill factor, letting the visuals and visceral sequences speak for itself, with just hints of musical scores to accompany them without any overkill.

I have to say that plot-wise, in the tradition of all the other twisty thriller films, I prefer “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” more. But this film’s revelation of Lisbeth Salander’s wounded past, albeit with some soap opera-like feel in its unraveling, is nonetheless, still very compelling. Mikael Blomkvist is in pure journalist mode in here though, so do not expect a chase sequence or two from him.


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Daniel Alfredson)

After the cliffhanger that is the "The Girl Who Played with Fire", the 'Millennium' trilogy finally came into a fitting end with barrels blazing and head held up high. There has always been an unhealthy practice for many filmmakers that handle trilogies to set every concluding films into high gear and hasten up into every plot closures, usually starting and, at the same time, culminating into some kind of a prolonged climax. We saw that happen to "The Matrix" franchise, to the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, and even "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (with that deus ex machina courtesy of the ghost army). Maybe they must have mistranslated the idea of a third film as 'an all-out racing fare into a quick conclusion'.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", with its grounded patience and steady yet tense pace, greatly differentiated itself from every narrative-connected film trilogies. The film, again masterfully handled by director Daniel Alfredson, carried the complex remnants of the tale's progressing anomaly with ease and a sense of utmost professionalism in terms of storytelling.

After the first two films' great build-up, the filmmakers maintained its attention to viewers' intellectual capacity and never went on for some cheap tricks and easy thrills; the film waited and anticipated. They could have easily cut some of Lisbeth Salander's (Noomi Rapace) stagnant sequences in the hospital, but they knew more. The film even focused itself at the slower moments, the conversations and the vocal developments of the story's impending end.

This approach proved to be very effective that when a brief physical action sequence finally comes to play, it was immensely satisfying and a tad bit more thrilling. Why? Because it was intensely justified. It did not put any characters into random degrees of action scenes just for the sake of it. The film fully developed before it gave its initial gunshots. It made us learn to be patient and open-minded, we were rewarded with great satisfaction.

Now, maybe the real reason for the film's well-executed display is the source material itself (by Stieg Larsson) but still, kudos to the makers who have brought this final chapter into cinematic fruition. Lisbeth and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) were not the only ones who received some pats on their backs for a job well done and a conflict well-resolved, we, the viewers, also did too: for a hefty fourth wall involvement in such an exhilarating, balanced, and thematically provocative saga that is also a damn fine triumvirate of thriller. The girl with the dragon tattoo. Played with fire. Kicked the hornet's nest. Rocked the film world.

And also gave Niedermann a heavily deserved comeuppance.



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