Starring: Claire Foy, Stephen Merchant, Lakeith Stanfield
Director: Fede Álvarez
Running Time: 115 mins
The Girl In The Spider’s Web is an American film following Lisbeth Salander as she finds herself caught up in a complex web of spies and cyberterrorists, as the world faces immense danger when a nuclear missile system is stolen.
While it doesn’t entirely do justice to the original Millennium series, The Girl In The Spider’s Web is still an enjoyable and engaging, if not somewhat lightweight, thriller throughout.
First off, let’s look at the bright side, and what this film does right on its own, and in comparison to the other films based on the Millennium series. Above all, The Girl In The Spider’s Web is a fairly fast-paced and slick affair, with a simple yet engaging story throughout that kept me thoroughly entertained, even when the film often misses its best opportunities to delve a little deeper into its main characters.
Secondly, the film’s visuals set it a little bit apart from both the Swedish films and David Fincher’s 2011 remake. While it retains the slick thriller vibe that also made its predecessors a collection of entertaining watches, there’s a much bleaker visual style throughout here, and although it unfortunately doesn’t tie in with a more unsettling or eerie atmosphere, it is at least a striking watch in a different manner to previous films in the series.
Another plus comes in the form of the performances, which also help to give the film its own identity away from previous big screen adaptations of Millennium. Claire Foy is very likable as Lisbeth Salander, and puts in a more engaging performance than Rooney Mara did in 2011 (albeit not quite as strong as Noomi Rapace), while supporting turns from the likes of Lakeith Stanfield and Sylvia Hoeks give the film a unique energy that I found really rather enjoyable to watch.
However, the big issue with The Girl In The Spider’s Web is that it’s a rather shallow film, particularly given the depth of its source material. The original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo featured a deep analysis of its main two characters, particularly the traumatic and dark past of Lisbeth Salander, however this film feels a lot more like a bog-standard crime thriller, without the same depth of emotion or drama to make things more engrossing.
Now, as a standard crime thriller, it does its job fairly well, and with its fast pacing, I was pretty entertained throughout, however I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed knowing that there is so much more to come from the characters at play here.
While Claire Foy gives a likable performance, I’m not entirely sure that’s what we need to see for a truly impressive portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. In the original, Noomi Rapace gave a distinctly unnerving turn that emphasised the character’s troubled past and inner demons, making her a fascinating lead to watch throughout. Here, on the other hand, Salander is a little bit too nice and likable, and while that works fine for the story, it takes away the opportunity for further dramatic intrigue and ambiguity surrounding her character throughout.
Also, Mikael Blomkvist is relegated even further down the ranks to an effectively inconsquential sidekick. In similarly disappointing fashion to both The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, this film’s use of Blomkvist takes out a fascinating element of the story, the strange yet riveting relationship between himself and Salander that made the original film work so well in its latter half. As a result, his character is fairly pointless here, and the poor use of him means Salander’s character loses yet another edge, further contributing to the film’s lack of real intrigue.
It’s difficult to really say what this film could have offered as further exposition of the main character, particularly given the fact that its chronology is a little ambiguous, taking place after the events of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, yet still half-rebooting the series in the English language, meaning that the information you’re given about the characters and the way in which they interact with each other isn’t clear enough from the off, and adds another point of confusion for the film.
Overall, The Girl In The Spider’s Web is a fairly enjoyable film, but that’s only if you’re looking for a straight and simple crime thriller. It’s fast-paced and exciting at times, but what it lacks in character depth and emotional drama when compared to its predecessors makes for an often frustrating watch, as you’re left watching a stripped down and overly simplified version of a story that could offer quite a lot more, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.