The New York Times has a mixed review, saying,
“The Hornet’s Nest” feels very much like the concluding chapter it is, with neatly tied loose ends and closing remarks, if one that plays out as something of a secular passion play. That Lisbeth has been nearly martyred again and again in a crucible of male violence is part of the trilogy’s kink and probably a large part of its appeal.Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Hornet's Nest is talky but indisputably terrific, and it ends in a dazzling display of courtroom fireworks." Slant Magazine gives it 1/2 out of 4 stars, finds nothing good in it and says, "Message-movie moralizing told without verve, wit, or mature nuance, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is intolerable unless one can somehow emotionally engage with the cartoonish Lisbeth and her you-go-girl shenanigans." Salon.com calls it "a rousing, grueling, almost operatically scaled finale to the series." The Guardian gives it 2 out of 5 stars and calls the entire series "disappointing". Time Out says it's "by far the weakest episode in the series, not only because its sole function is tortuously to address and explain all the loose ends from the previous two, but because it does so in the most lazy, artless manner possible". Roger Ebert says, "this uptight, ferocious, little gamine Lisbeth has won our hearts, and we care about these stories". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 54%; their audience score is some better at 67%.