Tattoo girl caught in spider’s web
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.