Friday Film Review - "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

Nov 16, 2018

Credit Monika Guendner / KPCW

Libby Wadman has this week's Friday Film Review

Having devoured the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books, by Stieg Larsson and having enjoyed the movies based on them, I was overjoyed to see the pending release of the Girl in the Spider’s Web. This latest addition to the Dragon Tattoo series is directed by Fede Alvarez and written by Alvarez and Jay Buso.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, involves, once again, the two main characters of the previous stories, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikhail Blomqvist. This time we get the backstory of Salander, which also provides the background and depth of this film’s main story. By virtue of her hacking skills, Salander has found herself caught in the middle of a deadly contest pitting an NSA agent, corrupt government officials and the Spiders, a group bent on world control, again each other, and they are all chasing her for the computer program she possesses. As one might imagine a very tangled web is woven, as all parties try to deceive one another.

Given the amount of time between the last film and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, there has been a change in actors in the lead roles. Claire Foy, most recently known by American audiences for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in, The Crown, portrays Lisbeth Salander and Sverrir Gudnason, from Borg vs McEnroe, is Mikael Blomkvist. Foy does a fine job of shredding her regal mantle as queen and donning the attitude of a rough and tough woman operating on the shady side of the world. Both Foy and Gudnason do admirable jobs stepping into their already known roles and creating the believable chemistry of a past relationship. Sylvia Hoeks, as Camilla, Lisbeth’s sister, is suitable devious while at the same time painfully vulnerable.

Fede Alvarez, writer/director of 2016’s Don’t Breathe, has put together a solid action movie, replete with all the requisite of just such a film.

What he hasn’t done is present a story that truly fits in with Larsson’s series. Perhaps this is because The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the 4th book in the series, which was written by David Lagencrantz after Larsson’s death, also deviates from Larsson’s original concept. The previous films based on Larsson’s books are stories that have Salander and Blomkvist working together to find answers to issues brought to Blomkvist’s attention as a journalist. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Blomkvist is a relatively minor character and it is all about Salander as an action character playing a game of keep away, rather than someone delving into the cause of a problem.

That perhaps, is the biggest negative of this film. From the opening credits, to the non-stop action, to the international group of evil run by a sibling, the film feels more like a James Bond movie than anything else. Now, Bond movies are wonderful and as unbelievable as they are I love every minuted of them. Larsson’s stories, however, were never like a Bond flick. If The Girl in the Spider’s Web were an independent book rather a continuation of an existing series this wouldn’t be a problem, but the Tattoo series has an already established identity and this film steals it.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, as an action movie is an okay watch, but check all sense of realism at the door. If you see it because you are a devotee of Larsson’s stories, be forewarned, you may be sorely disappointed.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a fairly well paced one hour and 57 minutes and rated R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.

This is Libby Wadman with the Friday Film Review, sponsored by the Park City Film Series, reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating.