The Girl movies have treated audiences very well these past three films and it’s a little sad to know the trilogy is over. While Played with Fire disappointed somewhat, because it didn’t quite live up to Dragon Tattoo’s intrigue or rawness, Hornet’s Nest wraps everything up nicely and makes it easy to say goodbye to Lisbeth Salander’s world. Newcomers are advised to start from the beginning of the series since the story is very dense and the filmmakers could only recap so much during this film. You won’t regret it.

In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is recuperating from bullet wounds – one lodged in her brain – after confronting her father and nearly killing him in the previous installment. Ironically, he resides just down the hall from her at the same hospital to recover from his injuries. Unfortunately for both of them, the government authorities that kept Lisbeth’s father’s history a secret, plot to silence him and Lisbeth before any attention is drawn their way. Meanwhile, Lisbeth must also prepare to stand trial for three murders, embroiling her friend Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), investigative journalist and publisher of the Millennium magazine, who finds representation for Lisbeth in court while also digging up evidence to help her case. Along the way old enemies come to light as well as new allies and Lisbeth will reveal the extent of her sordid past.

Having lived with these characters for three long films it’s easy to slip back into the relationship with them without missing a beat. Mikael’s tireless support of Lisbeth, risking life and limb – and not always his own – is heartening and is proper behavior for a man whose life Lisbeth saved in a previous film. Similarly, watching Lisbeth don her punk Goth regalia will elicit smiles and knowing chuckles from series fans. Thankfully, the entire cast has maintained their characters consistently across the trilogy, creating moments where audiences will forget that these people are simply actors.

As a tying up of loose ends, Hornet’s Nest can sometimes feel a bit too broad as the film has to make room for individual storylines. For the most part, most of the major plots are wrapped up artfully, but there are some sections that feel laborious, like the courtroom drama, which revisits a lot of ground covered in the previous films. Also, the constant checking in on the goings on of Lisbeth’s half brother felt contrived; as if the filmmakers thought audiences might forget this lurking danger. Overall, however, these are nitpicky logistical criticisms that are understandable given the entire body of work.

What’s most impressive about Hornet’s Nest is its ability to maintain suspense. After three films sympathizing with Lisbeth and living her rough life with her, audiences will just want her to live happily ever after and be done with it. The filmmakers won’t let viewers off so easy, however, and they do a great job of keeping Lisbeth’s fate uncertain all the way to the very end. Her adversaries are worthy for the most part, although some silly ideas keep a few of them from being truly menacing. For instance, a shadowy group that operates clandestinely within the government can’t seem to muster better ideas to scare off Mikael from investigating than to send creepy emails or throwing a rock through a window.

There’s so much going on Hornet’s Nest that it won’t feel like a traditional film with the well-known formulaic structure, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting. It’s not the best stand-alone film to watch as there’s absolutely no learning curve to bring new viewers up to speed. This film is strictly for the fans. Luckily, it’s easy to become one by watching the entire series.