Tat­too girl caught in spi­der’s web

The Star Early Edition - - LIFE - MICHAEL O’SUL­LI­VAN

SOME­THING’S dif­fer­ent about Lis­beth Sa­lan­der. Could it be the hair?

The tit­u­lar pro­tag­o­nist of The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web has changed her look dra­mat­i­cally since 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too. There she sported an asym­met­ri­cal, home­made-look­ing punk-rock mop and scary fa­cial pierc­ings. Here, she looks like a me­dieval monk who time-trav­elled: hip, but just this side of se­vere. One other thing: the char­ac­ter in the new film is played by Claire Foy. The other one was played by Rooney Mara.

Yet there are more changes than meet the eye in this sec­ond US film based on the en­dear­ingly dam­aged, aveng­ing-com­puter-hacker char­ac­ter cre­ated by the late Swedish writer Stieg Lars­son.

Skip­ping books 2 and 3 of Lars­son’s best­selling tril­ogy, Spi­der’s Web has jumped ahead, tak­ing its in­spi­ra­tion from a fourth Lis­beth Sa­lan­der novel writ­ten by David Lager­crantz af­ter Lars­son’s death. (Lars­son’s life part­ner, Eva Gabriels­son, has bit­terly crit­i­cised Lager­crantz’s book as “grave rob­bing”.)

Judg­ing only by these two films, the Lis­beth of Tat­too – at once feral, bril­liant, an­gry and eth­i­cally chal­lenged – has mor­phed into a kind of elite ninja war­rior and in­ter­na­tional cy­ber­crim­i­nal: a Jane Bond with a bad at­ti­tude and a black belt in Krav Maga.

In some re­spects, this Lis­beth doesn’t feel like the same per­son, even tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion her char­ac­ter’s evo­lu­tion.

The Lis­beth of Spi­der’s Web is still, as she is var­i­ously de­scribed in the new movie, a “hacker with a his­tory of ag­gra­vated as­sault”, “the girl who rights wrongs”, “the girl who hurts men who hurt women”, and a “freak”. But there’s a level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and pol­ish to what she does that is slightly off-putting.

The freak has be­come a fran­chise. Af­ter the Stock­holm-based Lis­beth is hired to steal soft­ware from the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency – a pro­gram that would en­able any user to ac­cess the mil­i­tary ar­se­nals of any coun­try – she has sec­ond thoughts about hand­ing it over.

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