Fede Alvarez’ The Girl in the Spider’s Web continues Lisbeth Salander’s life of cyberhacking and destroying abusive men’s lives around the globe and unfortunately, comes up way shorter than its predecessor.
It’s a shame too because, with some of the talent in front of and behind the camera here, it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.
This time around Lisbeth Salander is played by Claire Foy, who is caught up in a national security breach that puts her in way over her head. Lending her support in a lesser role is Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), who is still writing for Millennium magazine and is unable to remove himself completely from Lisbeth’s life. Things get more complicated when a client of Lisbeth’s, Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant), who holds codes for a nuclear weapon that a group of terrorists want to get their hands on, becomes a target. The key to the codes, however, is Frans’ son August (Christopher Convery), who is the only one that knows the password to access the nuclear weapon files. From here it becomes Salander’s responsibility to protect him.
After the success of the previous films (David Fincher’s 2011 remake is definitely worth re-visiting), it was a tough call to keep the ball rolling and it stumbles here harder than you’d expect. Considering her track record so far, unfortunately, Claire Foy is terribly miscast here even though she gives it her all. She just can’t seem to break through to the grittiness that previous actresses Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara did so well with. It’s probably the film’s biggest weakness and suffers heavily for it. Furthermore, the role of Mikael Blomkvist is severely underwritten and misses the previous star power that was Daniel Craig and the late Michael Nyqvist.
Another disappointment is the direction of Fede Alvarez. After coming out of the filmmaking gates strongly with his debut film, Evil Dead (2013) and his solid follow-up Don’t Breathe (2016), he fails to capture any true essence of the previous entries. His action scenes are rushed and choppy, and also having a hand in the often-confusing screenplay didn’t help either. In the end, the whole affair almost comes off as a TV movie-of-the-week.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web doesn’t invigorate any kind of life into the series. In a way, it kind of makes you wish David Fincher, Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig all came back for another round, but considering the talent involved here on paper, it’s a formula that should’ve come together stronger.
Before Claire Foy was attached to the film, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, originally considered for the title role in the previous film, were once again in talks to play Lisbeth Salander. Sony also considered Felicity Jones and Alicia Vikander for the titular role.