Lat­est ‘Mil­len­nium’ movie is messy, kinda silly

Foy makes a fine Lis­beth Sa­lan­der, but lat­est ‘Mil­len­nium’ movie is messy, kinda silly

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By En­ter­tain­ment Ed­i­tor Mark Mes­zoros >> mmes­zoros@news-her­ald.com >> @MarkMes­zoros on Twit­ter

Claire Foy is the lat­est ac­tress to take the role of Lis­beth Sa­lan­der — the hacker who pu­n­ishes men who abuse women.

If you know ac­tress Claire Foy solely from stream­ing “The Crown” on Net­flix, in which she grace­fully por­trays a young Queen El­iz­a­beth II, her phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance in “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web” will be jar­ring ¶ Short hair. Pierc­ings. Large tat­too of a dragon on her back. ¶ Foy is the lat­est ac­tress to take on the role of Lis­beth Sa­lan­der — the hacker and vig­i­lante who pu­n­ishes men who abuse women and who serves as the hero­ine of author Stieg Lars­son’s pop­u­lar “Mil­len­nium” tril­ogy. ¶ Un­for­tu­nately, Foy’s com­pelling per­for­mance is by far the best rea­son to see “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web,” an ac­tion thriller that starts off promis­ingly enough but in­creas­ingly be­comes a car­toon­ish en­deavor from “Don’t Breathe” di­rec­tor Fede Al­varez.

Per­haps that largely is due to the fact this film is not adapted from a book by Lars­son, who died in 2004, but from the best-sell­ing 2015 novel of the same name by David Lager­crantz, con­tracted to con­tinue the saga of Lis­beth. A lit­tle his­tory: Swedish author Lars­son’s three posthu­mously pub­lished “Mil­len­nium” books, the ti­tles of which in English are “The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too” (2005), “The Girl Who Played With Fire” (2006) and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hor­net’s Nest,” were made into Swedish-lan­guage films of the same names, all re­leased in 2009. An Amer­i­can-pro­duced ver­sion of “The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too” — di­rected by David Fincher (“Fight Club,” “The So­cial Net­work”) and star­ring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, as Lis­beth and her jour­nal­ist ally, Mikael Blomkvist, re­spec­tively — hit the­aters in 2011 and was gen­er­ally well-re­ceived.

An Amer­i­can adap­ta­tion of “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” with Fincher, Mara and Craig on­board, was planned but never ma­te­ri­al­ized.

Now, the film ver­sion of “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web” is said to be a se­quel to 2011’s “Tat­too,” but there seems to be no men­tion of this in the film’s pro­duc­tion notes.

And while, like all the afore­men­tioned films, this one is dark and vi­o­lent, it doesn’t have the art­ful bleak­ness that Fincher pro­vided. In fact, “Spi­der’s Web” at times feels as much like a James Bond or “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” flick as it does some­thing that be­longs in the world cre­ated by Lars­son, Lis­beth us­ing her smarts and tech skills to get out of jam af­ter ev­er­more-ridicu­lous jam.

The film be­gins with a flash­back, to when she and her sis­ter, Camilla, were young girls liv­ing with an abu­sive fa­ther, a life Lis­beth, un­like Camilla, chose to es­cape.

In present day, adult Lis­beth pays a visit to a pow­er­ful CEO type who’s been abus­ing pros­ti­tutes and sleep­ing with the wife of the wealthy man who backs his com­pany. Af­ter Lis­beth roughs up the creep, trans­fers some of his money into the ac­count of the hooker he’s just beaten and threat­ens to send an in­crim­i­nat­ing video record­ing to peo­ple who may just like to see it, he asks, “Who ARE you?”

“You should ask your­self that ques­tion,” she re­sponds.

Soon af­ter, she is con­tracted by a sci­en­tist (Stephen Mer­chant of “Lo­gan”), whose po­ten­tially Earthde­stroy­ing work has fallen into the hands of the Amer­i­cans.

He wants it back, but an­other, pos­si­bly more ne­far­i­ous, en­tity craves it, as well.

Lis­beth is at­tacked by masked men in her teche­d­out apart­ment, which they torch while try­ing to kill her. She es­capes, of course, and seeks the help of jour­nal­ist Mikael Blomkvist (now played by Sver­rir Gud­na­son of “Borg vs. McEn­roe”).

While Lis­beth soon finds her­self paired with Au­gust (Christo­pher Con­very), a smart, young boy she can’t al­low the bad guys to have, Mikael works on de­ter­min­ing who ex­actly is pulling all th­ese strings — an en­deavor that could end with an­other high-pro­file mag­a­zine piece for him.

One of the few other faces in the cast who will be rec­og­niz­able to U.S. au­di­ences is that of Lakeith Stan­field (“Get Out,” “Sorry to Bother You”), who por­trays a spe­cial­ist with the U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency who also is in pur­suit of the sci­en­tist’s work and who soon finds him­self on the trail of Lis­beth.

For­tu­nately for her, Lis­beth is al­ways at least one step ahead of ev­ery­one.

Early on in “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web,” Al­varez shows a nice flair for vi­su­als and he con­structs some ex­cit­ing se­quences.

How­ever, while his con­stantly mov­ing cam­era ac­cen­tu­ates the film when it’s glid­ing, it de­tracts from it when it’s shak­ing madly, as it does from time to time.

The real prob­lem with the film, though, is its script, cred­ited to Jay Basu, Al­varez and Steven Knight. The story be­comes con­vo­luted rather quickly and by the end is fairly silly. There are some nice ideas here, pos­si­bly at­trib­ut­able to Lager­crantz, but they don’t add up to a sat­is­fy­ing whole.

None­the­less, Foy is a joy to watch. She al­ready has ap­peared in 2018 films “Un­sane,” a well-re­ceived psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror movie from di­rec­tor Steven Soder­bergh, and the re­cent “First Man.”

Her per­for­mance in the lat­ter, as as­tro­naut Neil Arm­strong’s wife, is one of the strong­est as­sets of the film by “La La Land” di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle.

In “The Girl With the Spi­der’s Web,” she re­ally seems to be en­joy­ing play­ing a char­ac­ter who’s a far cry from the queen of “The Crown.” Like Noomi Ra­pace, star of the Swedish se­ries, and Mara, she is a fierce and wor­thy Lis­beth.

The pro­duc­tion notes do state that the film’s stu­dio, Columbia Pic­tures, re­tains the rights to all fu­ture books in the “Mil­len­nium” se­ries and is de­vel­op­ing an adap­ta­tion of Lager­crantz’s 2017 fol­low-up, “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye.”

If that film makes it to pro­duc­tion, here’s hop­ing Foy’s Lis­beth is around to take that eye.

COLUMBIA PIC­TURES

Claire Foy’s Lis­beth Sa­lan­der makes a bad man pay for his sins in mul­ti­ple ways in “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web.”

COLUMBIA PIC­TURES

Sver­rir Gud­na­son por­trays jour­nal­ist Mikael Blomqvist in “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web.”

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