The Girl in the Spider’s Web: Lisbeth Salander becomes James Bond

Review: Claire Foy brings nuance to a character that isn’t supposed to have any

The official trailer for The Girl in the Spider's Web, starring Claire Foy. Video: Sony Pictures

Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. The film keeps flagging autism as a superpower, but not everyone on the spectrum is a chess grandmaster

Film Title: The Girl in the Spider's Web

Director: Fede Álvarez

Starring: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps, Claes Bang

Genre: Action

Running Time: 115 min

Wed, Nov 21, 2018, 05:00

   

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is, according to its makers, a soft reboot. It’s complicated.

Following on from David Fincher’s underperforming 2011 film, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, the second American film to feature Steig Larsson’s faux-feminist avenger, Lisbeth Salander, has swapped Rooney Mara for Claire Foy and The Social Network director for Fede Alvarez, the filmmaker behind Don’t Breathe.

That doesn’t mean that The Girl in the Spider’s Web doesn’t stick rigidly to the near-monochrome aesthetic utilised by Fincher. It really does. Even the art installations depicted in the film are black and white.

What has changed is the plot. Working from David Lagercrantz’s novel of the same name, the film redraws Lisbeth as James Bond or possibly the Equaliser, as she gets drawn into a convoluted plot to capture all the nuclear launch codes in the world. Even the titles feature naked dancing lady silhouette.

Foy brings plenty of nuance and vulnerability to a character that isn’t supposed to have either. An added Oedipal subplot is as tedious as it is unoriginal. And worse, the film keeps flagging autism as a superpower – note to all filmmakers: not everyone on the spectrum is a chess grandmaster – while simultaneously playing down Lisbeth’s previously implied Asperger’s.

Fede Alvarez is a fine action director, and his exciting set-pieces provide decent compensation for Lisbeth’s now omnipotent skills.

Bad guy besting her in a car chase? No problem; hack his car. Possible ally in airport jail? Hack airport security. Need wheels? Hack yonder black Lamborghini for added Batman effect.

Between improbable hacks, the film loses track of the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) and of Lakeith Stanfield’s US security operative. The Square’s Claes Bang and Phantom Thread’s Vicky Krieps have weak roles. And let’s never speak of Sylvia Hoeks’s arch-villainess again.

Opens November 21st