“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” doesn’t live up to the spy-thriller hype; it doesn’t even thrill its main characters.
The film, directed by Fede Álvarez, is based on the popular mystery/spy-thriller book series, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” by David Lagercrantz, and focuses on two central characters: Lisbeth Salander, portrayed by Claire Foy, and Mikael Blomkvist, portrayed by Sverrir Gudnason. The film also acts a “soft reboot” and sequel to the 2001 “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” film directed by David Fincher.
This “Dragon Tattoo” film focuses on the action surrounding an international arms deal gone wrong. Salander is hired to steal a potentially dangerous computer program with the ability to hack into and seize control of the world’s nuclear defense systems. Salander, a vigilante for hire, steals the computer program from the National Security Agency in Washington D.C. and after the successful theft, the program is in turn stolen from her. She enlists the help of journalist Blomkvist to help investigate the theft before the program is used for nefarious means.
The first thing to mention of the film is the casting. Claire Foy and Sverrir Gudnason absolutely carry the film, and their supporting cast made up of stellar actors like breakout star LaKeith Stanfield and English comedian Stephen Merchant. These talented actors form the mythical backbone of the film because the action and plot are severely lacking.
The plot, while seemingly action-packed, doesn’t really follow in practice. The scenes don’t really transition between one another very well and this is probably due to a fault in editing. The action feels very disjointed. One moment the camera is focused on Salander hacking into security cameras and other technology, playing cat and mouse with Stanfield’s Edwin Needham, and the next moment the camera has slowed way down to follow Mikael Blomkvist investigating and interrogating potential suspects in the web-like mystery.
There are more positive elements of the film. The writing of the individual scenes is intriguing, showcasing the counterpoint between characters. Salander’s interactions with other characters are almost robotic and that purely stems from her upbringing by a sexually abusive father and a naïve sister. The film takes a very graphic stance on the violence women can face in the world by showcasing Salander’s primary targets early in the film. Salander is aptly described as “the girl who hurts men who hurt women,” and the film has many scenes that allude to this theme, whether in passing aesthetics or deliberate image. Salander is an almost “Robin Hood” figure to a woman in the film’s opening sequence, stealing all of her target’s money and transferring it to his battered wife.
Salander’s relationship with Blomkvist isn’t really touched on in the film, but only hinted at. It’s truly unfortunate that one of the film’s weaknesses is something it can’t control: “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is a sequel of movies that don’t exist. The interplay of characters isn’t well set up or developed because the filmmakers either assume the audience will have read the book or they don’t care. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” receives a 70 percent rating.