Review – ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ brings Lisbeth back with a whimper

Poster for 2018 techno thriller The Girl in the Spider's Web

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 21st November 2018
Runtime: 115 minutes
Director: Fede Alvarez
Writer: Fede Alvarez, Jay Basu, Steven Knight
Starring: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps, Claes Bang
Synopsis: Lisbeth Salander is recruited to steal a highly sophisticated nuclear launch computer program, but soon finds that there are other parties attempting to nick it too.

 

 

There’s no franchise in Hollywood considered so dead that it’s not being considered for a reboot. This year alone, the Halloween and Tomb Raider series have been dragged from their dotage for surprisingly impressive retreads that will get a whole new audience of eyes on their very valuable intellectual properties. The same lease of life is not likely to befall the series of films adapted from the Millennium books because, on the strength of belated soft reboot The Girl in the Spider’s Web, it seems as if there’s very little fuel left in the tank for hacker Lisbeth Salander, even with a new face at the forefront.

That new face is Claire Foy who, just a few months after Unsane and with awards attention building around her work in First Man, continues her quest to prove she’s more than just the woman from The Crown. And prove it she does, with another solid performance. Unfortunately, it’s a performance that is good despite the material surrounding it rather than because of it.

Lisbeth is, briefly, shown working as a sort of hacker vigilante on behalf of wronged women – an isolated flourish that, if expanded, could have given the film real relevance in the current landscape – before being hired by tech genius Frans (Stephen Merchant). He has made a dangerous tool that would give a country nuclear dominance and it is now in the hands of the NSA. Frans gets Lisbeth to nick the tool, which puts NSA drone Edwin (Lakeith Stanfield) on her track, as well as a series of criminal groups and governments who also want to get their hands on the tech. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) is there to provide bland support, while a shadowy crime boss (Sylvia Hoeks) looms in the background.

On paper, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is an attractive proposition. Foy is a red hot talent and director Fede Alvarez made this on the heels of his widely admired Evil Dead remake and the tense Don’t Breathe. But little of Alvarez’s flair is on show here and, with the exception of a few little bits of evocative body horror, he gets very little chance to stamp his impression on the movie. This is more of a generic thriller than it is a Lisbeth Salander movie and, as a result, it feels eminently disposable.

It is nice, however, to see that Lisbeth is undoubtedly the main character this time around, pushing Gudnason’s very bland Blomkvist to the sidelines. That decision, though, proves to bear slightly rotten fruit with a conclusion that is predictable from the first frame – not least in the case of anyone who saw the trailer, which was essentially a synopsis of every narrative twist and turn. The Girl in the Spider’s Web squanders everything that might have been interesting about it in favour of a generic plot, executed with a cinematic splutter of chilly air.

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

The prospect of a new movie outing for Lisbeth Salander is an interesting one, but The Girl in the Spider’s Web fails to recognise what has made the character compelling since Stieg Larsson created her. Claire Foy does her best in the lead role, but she’s miscast here and none of the apparatus around her is anything other than desperately grim, glum and tedious.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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