The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web

Ac­tion thriller. With Claire Foy, Sver­rir Gud­na­son and Lakeith Stan­field. Di­rec­tor: Fede Al­varez. 16LS SV.

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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.

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