The Girl in the Spider's Web




Stieg Larson's characters live on but lose their distinctive voices.

The Girl in the Spider's Web

Manipulating the system: Claire Foy


When David Fincher gave us the English language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back in 2011 it was widely assumed that it would be the first in a series of remakes. But, whereas Stieg Larson's full Millennium Trilogy had been filmed in Swedish, we have had to wait until now for another work in English featuring that offbeat heroine Lisbeth Salander. This time the source is the first of the novels that appeared after Larson's death written by David Lagercrantz and the director is Fede Álvarez. It is good news that, to follow on from Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, we have an actress as talented as Claire Foy to take the role of Lisbeth, but the good news ends there.


It is, I suppose, inevitable that by now this unusual heroine, so tough in action and marked out visually by her tattoos and piercings and offered as openly bisexual, no longer has the novelty value that intrigued us in the first place. But it goes beyond that because this film (I have not read the novel on which it is based) has lost the character of the earlier films. It is the case that The Girl who Played with Fire, the second film in the trilogy, did push the improbabilities to extremes, thus making it the weakest of the group. But, that piece apart, Larson gave us works which, when adapted for the screen, may have upped the harsh violence yet retained some of the style of film noir combined with a touch of those later paranoia thrillers that questioned the honesty of those in power.


Álvarez's film has only a few traces of that (the authorities are still not to be trusted), but in essence this is one of those impersonal modern-style action movies in which everything from car chases to escape bids are so totally over the top that they defy any credibility whatever. Admittedly this tale does retain that aspect of the original formula whereby current criminal activities, which entangle our heroine drawn in through her hacking skills, prove to be linked to her own past history in ways which lead to fresh revelations about Lisbeth's past.


Rapace and Mara both had the chance to delineate a very original heroine but Foy, competent as ever but with far fewer opportunities, just seems to be wasting her time here. Similarly, Salander's helper, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist, was a good enough role for Fincher to cast Daniel Craig but now, through no fault of Sverrir Gudnason, the character becomes no more than a cypher. This really applies all along the line: Lakeith Stanfield plays a National Security man from America and, judging by advance reports, he will  make us sit up shortly in Sorry to Bother You but here there is nothing at all to make us take notice of him. Long as it is, The Girl in the Spider's Web does keep on piling action on action so people who relish that for its own sake may find this entertaining, even if some fights are given such fast editing that details can barely be discerned. Essentially though this is a so-called entertainment which, despite being big, is also utterly and completely vacuous.




Cast: Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield, Sverrir Gudnason, Stephen Merchant, Sylvia Hoeks, Vicky Krieps, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Andreja Pejic, Mikael Persbrandt, Volker Bruch, Beau Gadsdon.


Dir Fede Álvarez, Pro Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Ole Søndberg, Søren Stærmose, Amy Pascal and Elizabeth Cantillon, Screenplay Jay Basu, Fede Álvarez and Steven Knight, from the novel by David Lagercrantz, based on Stieg Larson's characters, Ph Pedro Luque, Pro Des Eve Stewart, Ed Tatiana S. Riegel, Music Roque Baños, Costumes Carlos Rosario.


New Regency Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions/Metro Goldwyn Mayer/The Cantillon Company/Yellow Bird-Sony Pictures.
117 mins. UK/USA/Germany/Sweden/Canada. 2018.
Rel: 21 November 2018. Cert. 15.