Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web, offers a new standalone tale based on the Millennium novels in what is a distant sequel to 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with a new cast and director. Claire Foy, and Sverrir Gudnason replace Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig respectively, with Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) directing.
Spider’s Web has a straight forward tale to tell, for this film Lisbeth Salander finds herself in trouble after a high risk job goes wrong and various authorities including spy agencies seek to hunt her down. Her true foe however comes from a far more personal connection which Lisbeth has to uncover in order to save herself. Overall the film dedicates too little screen time to its twist however, leaving a missed opportunity to capitalise on the drama which this revelation could have led to.
The film isn’t exploring much new materiel in terms of plot, and its twist isn’t unexpected either, but its grounded tone, and abrasive action lend the film its own creative style which is less familiar than other films with similar stories. Contrary to Dragon Tattoo, Spider’s Web largely sidelines reporter Mikael Blomkvist from this adventure, ensuring that the focus is on Lisbeth and her actions to drive the story forward.
The film opens and closes with its two strongest sequences, one an action set piece in the final act of the film, and the other a character driven confrontation which establishes the Lisbeth character in a confronting and powerful way. If you’re looking for consistency across films however in the characterisation of Lisbeth, you’re likely to be disappointed, this is definitely more of an action hero take on the character.
The middle portion of the film is paced quite slowly, and it fails to make use of its suspense, drama, or even intrigue in a particularly compelling way. Events feel overly routine as Lisbeth goes through the motions of uncovering a larger plot while remaining on the run from authorities pursuing her.
Claire Foy gives a strong performance as Lisbeth, she effectively portrays a hardened and damaged character, one that doesn’t seek audience affection by any means, but at the same time is a tragic character and taps into audience sympathy. Sverrir Gudnason has a minor presence and is largely sidelined in the film, there’s not much opportunity for him to leave any lasting impression. Lakeith Stanfield has more opportunity to shine, though he’s also quite restrained in that he’s more an archetype than a character. Other than Claire Foy in the lead, Sylvia Hoeks has the most dramatic materiel to work with and she’s strong when she’s on screen, but is largely underutilised.
Making a sequel to a film so many years later, with an entirely new cast tends to risk a negative perception, and while The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a competent enough film, there’s little here to allow it to stand out on the strength of its own merits.
I’m giving it 6.5 out of 10, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is to be released in cinemas around Australia from 8th November 2018.