Friday, November 9, 2018

The Girl in the Spider's Web - Review

As of this film, there have now been three iterations of the characters of Lisbeth Salander on screen since the first novel’s publication in 2005. The inherent interest in the cold and introverted hacker guarantees that a return to telling her stories is almost an inevitability. The early reviews and box office receipts indicate this version may be the last for quite some time.

Fired from the National Security Agency, Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) recruits hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) to steal FireFall, a computer program that can access codes for nuclear weapons worldwide. The download soon draws attention from an NSA agent (LakeithStanfield) who traces the activity to Stockholm. Further problems arise when Russian thugs take Lisbeth's laptop and kidnap a math whiz who can make FireFall work. Now, Lisbeth and an unlikely ally must race against time to save the boy and recover the codes to avert disaster.

In an odd casting decision, but a potentially inspired choice, Claire Foy was tasked as the next Lisbeth Salander. And more often than not, she is the best part of the film. While she may not capture the essence of the character as well as actresses in the past, Foy gives a suitable performance for the film she has been given, even if the accent falls off from time to time. The lack of depth in The Girl in the Spider’s Web is clear, and thus the characters suffer for it.

At least Foy feels at home in the film, Sylvia Hoeks on the other hand, does not. Hoeks is a tremendous actress, but the direction here puts her in a far more over the top film than this. For evidence, look no further than her character humming “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in the third act of a super dreary thriller. And yet that is still somehow the most interesting character in the film.

The film can’t even escape the mundane and unimaginative when the action is brought to the forefront. It’s chaotic, even nauseating at times, as it strives for something exciting but lands in the area of a cheap Bourne knock-off. The potential is there, which winds up more frustrating than if absolutely nothing clicked. 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web had an uphill climb from the beginning, a near herculean task of topping previous iterations that are brilliant in their own ways. Claire Foy is decent in the role of Lisbeth, and makes the most of what the film provides. If Sony had any hope of this property as a franchise, this film may have officially killed off any possibilities for the future of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the big screen.

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