‘Girl in Spider’s Web’ tangled in tropes
What can’t Claire Foy do? She’s the Queen of England (on Netflix’s “The Crown”), Mrs. Neil Armstrong (in “First Man”) and for her next trick, she’s slipped into the cyber-goth trappings and jet black bowl cut of the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story.”
Her Lisbeth doesn’t have the fierce fragility of Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” or the Nordic flintiness of Noomi Rapace, who played the character in the Swedish film trilogy.
Foy’s Lisbeth is passionate and compassionate, despite her severe styling and frosty demeanor. Early on, her famed dragon tattoo is sliced open in an attack, and for the rest of the film, despite superglue and staples, it seeps blood. It’s the perfect encapsulation of this Lisbeth Salander, a bleeding heart whose wounds have never closed.
The plot is a classic “thingamajig” story, which bedevils the “Mission: Impossible” films and most superhero movies, so it’s somewhat appropriate a soft reboot/sequel to a film about a distinctive crusader would fall prey to this scenario. Lisbeth has to keep a (insert worldending device here) out of the hands of (insert nefarious criminal organization here). It’s a tale as old as cinematic time, edgedup with facial piercings, unfortunate bangs and light lesbian action.
The twist is the nefarious criminal organization has a deeply personal connection to Lisbeth’s past, and her quest rips open deep, old emotional wounds. Lisbeth’s status as a survivor of sexual assault has always been a huge part of her story, and in “Spider’s Web,” that is brought to the forefront, asserting that rape is what makes women bitter and violent.
For all of the film’s shortcomings, which include an overly complicated, uninteresting plot and baffling fight scenes shot from completely insane angles, Foy is truly doing the work. She is both meticulous and earnest as Lisbeth.
Lisbeth loves women, reveres womanhood and tortures men who hurt women. She’s the kind of hero we need right now, and her return to the screen is welcome. It’s a shame this story sends her skittering off chasing encrypted laptops and not true bad guys. Maybe next time.
Claire Foy portrays Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”