Movie Review

'The Girl in the Spider's Web' is a by-the-numbers action movie

The book 'The Girl in the Spider's Web' may have remained true to the spirit of Stieg Larsson's creation, but it loses any meaningful social commentary on screen

11 November 2018 - 00:00

When Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy was published posthumously in 2005 it seemed easy to see why it captured the international imagination.
In the pre-MeToo era Larsson's androgynous-looking, queer, computer-hacking heroine bent on revenge against abusive men, Lisbeth Salander, offered a prescient alternative James Bond figure for those outside the ambit of state agencies.
When it became time to adapt the hugely successful novels to film, the Swedes did an admirable job with a trio of films starring Noomi Rapace as Salander and the late Michael Nyqvist as her crusading journalist partner Mikael Blomkvist.
They pared down much of the dull, anti-capitalist forensic details of the novels while still managing not to make the films simple, save the world, kick-ass affairs.
Of course, this was not good enough for Hollywood, where anything with subtitles is not about to go untouched and so in 2011 we were treated to a lacklustre English reboot of the first book in the series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara as Salander.
The reception was lukewarm and so a complete trilogy was shelved ... until now. That's thanks to the 2015 sequel to Larsson's original series written by David Lagercrantz, titled The Girl in the Spider's Web, which has now made its way to screens directed by Fede Alvarez and starring Claire Foy as Salander.
WATCH | The trailer for The Girl in the Spider's Web

While the book may have remained true to the spirit of Larsson's creation, the film falls into the pitfall of playing to tried, trusted and ludicrous action plot points at the expense of any meaningful commentary on political or social themes.
Lisbeth is still a vigilante for the rights of abused women but we now learn more of her backstory as one of two sisters abused by their late Russian mob-involved father.
When she is hired by computer genius Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant - seriously?) to steal a doomsday program called FireWall, capable of accessing nuclear codes from anywhere in the world, Salander is set on a terrifying course that will place her in conflict with NSA agent Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), reunite her with Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) and see her confront her long-lost sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks) before she has to save the world...

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