The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Based on the 2015 book of the same name written by David Lagercrantz as part of the Millennium novel series begun by the late Swedish author Steig Larsson beginning in 2005 with the posthumous publication of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is an average reboot of the 2011 American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which itself is a remake of the 2009 Swedish feature film, that relies too heavily on its action sequences and not enough on the fascinating main character who has now been played by three different actresses. The story follows the exploits of a punk hacker with a complex background named Lisbeth Salander, played by Golden Globe-winner Claire Foy in a truly mold-breaking performance, who finds herself caught in the web of an international criminal conspiracy to steal a software program that gives the user complete control of the world’s nuclear arsenal. With the help of her longtime partner and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, played by Icelandic actor Sverrir Gudnason, she discovers that the developer of the potentially catastrophic program who previously worked for the American National Security Agency named Frans Balder, played by British actor Stephen Merchant, and his brilliant young son are in danger and must be protected against Lisbeth’s enemies. At the same time, a special agent with the NSA named Edwin Needham, played by LaKeith Stanfield, travels to Sweden to search for the missing program known as Firefall before it falls into the wrong hands. Eventually, Edwin and Lisbeth team up to find out who is really behind the theft of the powerful software tool, and she discovers that her estranged sister who was abused by their father may have been involved as the head of a criminal organization. The film scratches the surface of the personal life of the enigmatic Lisbeth who is able to elude authorities for many years despite her striking appearance, and it also explores her vigilante feminism in which she targets male abusers caused by her past sexual abuse and bisexual tendencies. However, unlike the original Swedish books and movies, the audience does not fully grasp who she really is, outside of being a righteous hacker and action heroine. A majority of the film is comprised of elaborate action sequences in which Lisbeth is chased by authorities and criminals through the streets of Stockholm on her motorcycle. Overall, I came away with the feeling that this most recent adaptation does not add much to the already rich literary and cinematic canon about the deeply compelling and complicated character of Lisbeth Salander; unfortunately, the film devolves into a rather typical action flick that tries too hard to reboot such a famous character.

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