‘THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB’ is directed by Fede Álvarez. It reboots the Millennium film series and abandons the events of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ to begin its own story. The cast is revamped with Claire Foy coming in to take the lead of Lisbeth Salander. Sverrir Gudnason, Sylvia Hoeks, and Lakeith Stanfield fill out the cast. With a story that follows skilled hacker Lisbeth Salander as she takes a case that pulls her into a world of government corruption, and cyber-criminals.
I thoroughly enjoy the Millennium series films. The Noomi Rapace trilogy is exceptional and she completely killed it in the role of Salander. The David Fincher American adaptation with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara certainly has it merits. It was twenty-minutes too long but a dark, grim, and flat-out eerie, crime-thriller that I still enjoy revisiting from time-to-time. Fede Álvarez is one of the great up-and-coming filmmakers in my opinion and I’m always buying what Claire Foy is selling so I was highly curious about what this reiteration of the franchise would deliver.
I was hoping for a well-crafted film visually. A story filled with eccentric, mysterious, and interesting characters. As well as a plot that would peel back many ominous, and seedy layers with appealing international locations serving as the backdrop. After watching, I will say the direction was on point. It was an artistic film that was loaded with crisp immersive visuals. The action was very well-captured with angles that delivered all the impact and intensity needed to pull me up in my seat. This story-line definitely had more action than the past films and while it was a surprise, I will say all the set-pieces were very well orchestrated.
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The settings and backdrops all had their own unique visual appeal with many wide-sweeping pans and aerial shots capturing it all with a smooth flow. The lighting, the production design, wardrobes, and cinematography, were all exceptional. And the result was a beautifully crafted film that felt cold and moody with a mildly edgy international vibe. It also had some well-crafted motorcycle chase-sequences that built instant suspense.
Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander was fantastic. She poured herself into the role and captured more than enough anger, intensity, and internal torment. Foy was more than capable in the action-sequences with some awesome physical acting. She also embodied the tough, intelligent, but broken character-type with ease and I was easily able to connect with her as the focal point of the plot. Lakeith Stanfield was also a strong addition and while his subplot may have felt routine, it was still entertaining to see him take on another character of a different type. He continues to build on his acting range in this one by feeling more than capable in an action heavy role. He also brought some intensity to his character that certainly left an impression on the story.
I did however have some issues with this one. Primarily from the writing side. Like I said, Foy was excellent in the lead. But with her characters creation on the writing side, she only had flashes of Lisbeth Salander in her. Foy was without question a fantastic, strong female lead that could work perfectly in any film. Just one that doesn’t have her tatted up with a dragon on her back. She embodies an awesome character that was more her own than it was a retelling of an already established one. I could say that general notion rang true about this entire film. Solid for the genre. But sort of a letdown as an adaptation. It was a solid crime-thriller with a story that has some layers to it but nothing overly fresh. It splashes in some action-sequences and provides some excellent production design, as well as a great musical score to mask over some weak character dynamics. Not perfect film, certainly by-the-numbers but very well-crafted overall.
However, as a film with the dense source-material that this one had to build from. It felt like a glossed over adaptation that seemed more intent on reaching out to a wider audience, than one wanting to appeal to the more niche demographic the other films and novels live in. It felt like it was missing the raw seediness that the others thrived in. It felt like a film that didn’t quite step on the gas, and I was disappointed by that. The story-line was more than serviceable but also very procedural in large sections. It felt much more like a watered down ‘Bourne’ film than a ‘Dragon Tattoo’ movie with it creating a completely different atmosphere to its story.
I was hoping for a plot with a bleaker, crime-themed mystery that explored the characters. One with a methodical foreboding pace, that had strong dark sinister moments. In the end, it felt very clean and polished but in too much of a studio sense, specifically through the tone. The progression of the narrative felt much more convenient than it did complex. The addition of Michael Blomkvist felt tacked on and I never was able to feel the chemistry, or connection between he and Salander. I also felt the use of computer hacking was weak a times. It was over simplified, and it felt more like a plot device to maneuver the story directions.
I enjoyed the story for what it was. It had some twists and turns and flashes of the source-material. But I also feel it didn’t have the complexity to warrant a two-hour run-time. Which did make the pace drag at times given it wasn’t diving too deep into characters. I think had some sub-plots be revealed earlier the intrigue throughout would have been much higher and made the middle of the film resonate more. I think mainstream audiences will enjoy it enough. But I think fans of the past films, or of the novels will be letdown a bit. It felt like it held back on the darkness of the tone, and it hindered the finished result. It was a very good crime-thriller, but a very routine one that felt like many others in the genre when it didn’t need to.