The Girl in the Spider’s Web is different, but only slightly. Despite the action being fun, thrilling, and excellently shot by Pedro Luque (Don’t Breathe), the story and its characters wilt in the Scandinavian snow.
Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is back in another Swedish vigilante adventure, though not one conceived by Stieg Larsson, the original author of the Millennium novels. Spider’s Web is based on the ‘fourth’ book in the trilogy, written by David Lagercrantz, in which Salander is a hacking superhero who hangs male abusers upside down.
Now, she faces a more world-ending situation. Ex-NSA employee Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant, in his most humourless role to date) has a computer programme that contains the world’s missile codes, which he stole from the Americans and brought to Sweden, and contacts Salander to get rid of it. The film then spirals into an international conspiracy involving Salander’s bitter psycho sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).
Sverrir Gudnason and Claire Foy as Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander
The global popularity of Scandi noir was effectively started by the Millennium trilogy, and there’s an intriguing, darker, and harder edge to dramas under the same umbrella. Watching Spider’s Web, it’s uncertain whether writers Steven Knight, Jay Basu, and director Fede Alvarez have actually seen a Scandi noir in its entirety. Or, they got bored with one and switched over to a Bond movie instead.
A desire for a franchise catalyst is so desperately pungent, especially when comparing it to David Fincher’s American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In Spider’s Web, there’s no bleak psychological undercurrent and no crime that’s grotesquely abhorrent – and even when Alvarez gets close, he quickly shies away.
The visuals are good, tracking the thrills with such attractive fluidity that cheers for Salander are not far behind. Foy delivers a lethally sharp performance, and captures the darkness of that character even if the script doesn’t bother. However, the action scenes are often resolved with such underwhelming ease. During one sequence when Salander rides on a bike to escape the police, she stops and stares at them as if to say ‘well, I guess I somehow got out of that one!’.
Spider’s Web is transparently Hollywood, trying to be Bond and trying to appeal to comic book fans. It’s not as dark as it needs to be, nor as involved with Salander's torment and trauma, which is a cowardly move from the writers. The action is effortlessly enjoyable with its gun fights, car chases, and speedy hacking – it’s only on returning to the characters when it feels like hard work.
|What||The Girl in the Spider's Web film review|
21 Nov 18 – 21 Nov 19, TIMES VARY
|Website||Click here for more information|