Are you looking for a beloved, complex, layered and nuanced story boiled down to a basic plot and presented in a way that makes it indistinguishable from every other generic thriller?
Then do I have a movie for you.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is based on the fourth book of the Millennium series (originally written by Steig Larsson), but written after Larsson’s death using the same characters and storylines as the three previous bestsellers.
The film picks up three movie years after the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie (all characters are played by different actors) and finds Lisbeth Salander (previously played by Rooney Mara, now played by the Crown’s Claire Foy) kicking abusive men’s assets while taking names.
She remains an antisocial, sexually fluid ball of rage now targeting the rich and famous men of Sweden who are misogynistic abusers behind closed doors. Still reeling from the implied (in the film and explicitly explained in the novels) sexual violence she experienced at the hands of her own father, she is an avenging angel taking revenge on behalf of abused women everywhere.
That is until she gets a pesky hacking request to find a secret computer program that gives total control over the entire world’s nuclear arsenal to whoever possesses it.
The programmer (played by Stephen Merchant) who created it says the American government is using it in ways it wasn’t intended to be used (they would never!) and wants it back.
Could Lisbeth be so kind as to steal it back for him? Moments after she steals it it becomes clear there are other nefarious groups that would ALSO like to possess such a program.
From there the film becomes a game of cat and mouse with Lisbeth on the run from the NSA, the Swedish government and a secret society called the “spiders,” while trying to keep the programmer’s savant son alive.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (previously played by Daniel Craig and now by Swede Sverrir Gudnason) pops in from time to time to help where he can and look at Lisbeth pathetically.
Gudnason plays Blomkvist as a generic handsome Swedish guy – gone is the crackling sexual tension between journalist and hacker.
That’s really the problem with the whole film – gone is the crackle of ANY tension. Not for a moment do you ever worry that Lisbeth won’t survive this latest adventure.
Whether you’re watching her ride a motorcycle over a half frozen lake or suffocate while being vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag, you know she’ll not only be fine but emerge victorious.
All that being said, the film is fine – not great, not a disaster. Foy plays a watered down version of the infamous character well and is undoubtedly the best part of the film.
Lakeith Stanfield is a nice addition as the NSA agent trying to get the program back and the stark Swedish landscape continues to act as the perfect backdrop for bloodshed.
If you’re starving for an OK thriller, this should fill you up. But if you’re looking for a film worthy of the dark, layered twists and turns of the original series you’re sure to be disappointed.
Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia