The Millennium Trilogy concludes, and by the end, it’s a somewhat mixed bag.

Credit where credit’s due: Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander continues to be the biggest draw for the film.  Sadly, she isn’t given too much to do – this being in terms of her hacker skills – but the physical transformation involved with the character alone is worth the price of admission.  The courtroom scenes that show her wearing a completely over-the-top goth outfit highlights that the most.

Out of the three films, Hornet’s Nest does the best job at adapting the book, getting rid of all the extraneous subplots, but also adding elements from a few of those subplots to make things somewhat different between mediums.  The office staff for Millennium is wisely reduced to four, keeping to a core set of characters and giving them enough development to move the film forward.

The film itself picks up right where the previous one left off: Salander is sent to a hospital, recovering from her wounds; her half-brother is on the run, having killed one police officer and severely injuring another one; Mikael  Blomkvist is on a trail trying to clear Lisbeth’s name; and, a secret police group is working to silence everyone, in one way or another.

With Salander on the sidelines, it’s up to the conspiracy plot to move things forward.  It does work to an extent: the cat and mouse game is exciting when things happen, but the “things happen” part is few and far in between.  Between the occasional spurts of action are long bits of exposition.  They advance the plot, but the exposition weighs everything down, especially when the plot needs to be explained.  Also, being a plot driven movie, characters are often left as mere caricatures and ciphers.  Blomkvist and Salander get the most character development, but that’s also because they got it two films ago (Erika wasn’t even properly named in the first film, only in the credits).

Also, and most damning – especially to the fans of the books – is the reason why Blomkvist and Salander don’t talk to each other for long periods of time, if at all after the first film.  I tried recalling why, in the movies, Salander completely dismisses Blomkvist.  I know what occurs at the end of the first novel that does this, but because of the need to cut out certain subplots and character traits (like Mikael’s promiscuity), important things get left out.  Granted, no one knew that these films would become as massive as they eventually did.  Something could have been done to address that particular point; their meeting at the end of this movie doesn’t hold up because the catalyst is never introduced, and various things that characters say along the way holds no weight or bearing because of the lack of a catalyst.

That said, I realize two things: I read the books and I’m comparing the two together unfavorable, and I need to find someone who hasn’t read the books to watch the movies and decide what they think about them.  I decided long ago (back when I wrote the review to Dragon Tattoo actually) that I need to objectively keep the novel and film separate.  By now, that certainly hasn’t happened, hence the need for someone to view just the movies objectively before reading the books.

As for the film standing alone, it’s slow, it’s pondering, but it’s acted well despite the lack of character development, and Noomi Rapace still remains a great draw as Lisbeth Salander.  It does wrap up the trilogy effectively, but by this point, it’s mainly for the fans and for crime genre lovers.