The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Action thriller. With Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason and Lakeith Stanfield. Director: Fede Alvarez. 16LS SV.
In this movie, based on the fourth book in the Millennium series penned by David Lagercrantz after the death of original author Stieg Larsson, Foy takes over as Swedish hacker Lisbeth Salander, who exposed misogyny and corruption in her country’s government.
A few years after the events in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Lisbeth is approached by a computer programmer (Stephen Merchant) to steal a program he created for the US government but which he believes is too dangerous to exist. Lisbeth succeeds but is then targeted by mercenaries, who steal the program and leave her for dead. While in hiding she must turn to her former lover, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Gudnason), for help.
If you’ve seen the original trilogy starring Noomi Rapace or the 2011 remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara, it might take a moment to get used to Lisbeth’s latest incarnation. But Foy (The Crown) is a great actress and though her Lisbeth is less volatile than Rapace’s and less aloof than Mara’s, she fully inhabits the role.
Today there are an increasing number of action films with capable heroines, but they’re often still saddled with flowing locks and high-heeled boots to make them adhere to what’s stereotypically considered attractive. So it’s refreshing for a mainstream film to have a female hero who’s dressed practically and doesn’t care whether her short hair and leathers might not appeal to most men.
The plot is a bit predictable and hinges on genre clichés but having an unusual lead character tackle these familiar scenarios makes them exciting and new again. The varied action sequences are gripping but unfortunately leave little room for character development. There’s plenty of chemistry between Foy and Gudnason and more scenes exploring Lisbeth and Mikael’s complicated relationship would’ve been welcome. Unnerving evil mastermind Camilla (Blade Runner 2049’s Sylvia Hoeks) is a great villain but she’s underused.
Still, it’s superior entertainment. A sequel based on Lagercrantz’s second novel wouldn’t go amiss.
Claire Foy is the new Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.