The Girl in the Spider's Web Review
Straightforward and simple but still entertaining.
Claire Foy stars as the third realisation of Lisbeth Salander, the dark and dangerous computer hacker that could just about give James Bond or Jason Bourne a run for their money.In 2005 Stieg Larsson published The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in a trilogy series that would come to be known as Millennium. Of course these award-winning novels soon got the big screen treatment with each book getting its own Swedish movie version, all of which were released in 2009 and starred Noomi Rapace in the lead role.
It wasn’t long before American studios decided to release their own adaptation of Larsson’s first book in 2011, this time starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara with David Fincher directing. After Larsson’s death, Swedish publishers announced that David Lagercrantz was going to write the fourth novel in the Millennium series, which was published in 2015 and has now been turned into film, and functions as both a sequel and a reboot of the series, re-introducing the characters for those not familiar with the history.
Both a sequel and a reboot of the series, re-introducing the characters for those not familiar with the history.
Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) returns as the computer whizz vigilante who looks out for the women who have been wronged by the men in their lives. She stalks them, hunts them down and uncovers their deep, dark secrets to exact revenge on behalf of the women they have denigrated. There’s no firewall too high or too strong that can keep her out. And it’s her computer hacking skills that keep her on the bank roll of those who need to get a job done, helping to fund her Robin Hood-like hobby.
When a computer programme called Firefall, capable of harnessing the world’s nuclear firepower, falls into the wrong hands, Lisbeth finds herself embroiled with a gang of deadly henchmen who call themselves The Spiders. Complicating things further for our anti-hero is an agent from the American National Security Agency, who is determined to track both her and the missing computer programme down. Unable to take on this veritable 8-legged beast alone, Lisbeth enlists the help of an old acquaintance, Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) - a journalist for a magazine publication called Millennium.
Brief glimpses into Lisbeth’s past as a young girl give insight into this isolated woman with a cold, hard exterior. She sees hints of a past that she left behind but constantly haunt her ever day life all around her. And it’s not long before she realises that the past has caught up with her and has become a very present threat to her existence.
Very by the book in terms of action thriller formula.
Fede Alvarez’s adaptation of Lagercrantz’s novel is very by the book in terms of action thriller formula. It ticks all the boxes of what you would expect to find in a film of this genre. Of course, it’s extremely far fetched with a couple of big plot holes, but regardless, it remains entertaining. Visually, it’s pleasurable to watch, with cool icy tones all over the place; it feels as cold as it looks. The cinematography is rather stylish and refrained, no messy disjointed or criss cross editing here. No, it’s quite simple in terms of how it’s shot and simplicity seems like a theme that runs from start to finish.
There’s no huge cast of characters to make it difficult to follow, there’s no huge amount of backstory or exposition either. It kicks off from the go and is quite easy to get on board and let both the action and story unfold. It’s simplicity is probably both a good and bad thing. For those who haven’t seen the original three films, nor read the books or seen the American remake, The Girl in the Spider’s Web gives you just enough information so that you can hit the ground running, and is entertaining enough on its own. The film acknowledges that things happened prior to this chapter but doesn’t go into so much detail that it leaves you feeling like you were missing out on a key piece of the puzzle.
With two not too distant memories of Lisbeth Salander being played by Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, this time around the third realisation is played by Claire Foy. Donning much the same look, Foy slips easily into the role of Lisbeth and plays her with a strong sense of control and determination. There are moments of sensitivity that shimmer through and offer the hard edged Lisbeth a softer side but this doesn’t take away at all from the power and strength she exudes.
Lakeith Stanfield plays Ed Needham, the NSA agent hot on Lisbeth’s tail. Despite being reasonably good in the role, the character does feel slightly out of place, like a last minute addition to give the film a masculine hero to root for, perhaps.
For those who haven’t seen the original three films, nor read the books or seen the American remake, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is entertaining enough on its own.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is an entertaining enough action thriller despite having a very straightforward, arguably derivative, storyline. It’s not amazing nor is it completely awful. Foy’s Lisbeth Salander is fun to watch as she holds her own against a bunch of tough guys but it’s the suggestion that there’s a whole lot more beneath the surface that we haven’t yet seen that could make for an even better watch, perhaps in the next film…
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