The Girl in the Spider's Web

  • 24 Nov - 30 Nov, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Dark and mysterious ‘the Girl’, Lisbeth Salander, of the famous novels and movies (one English and others in native Swedish) gets a soft reboot in The Girl in the Spider's Web. It, however, suffers from a franchise churningmold which has too much Bourne and Bond in the mix. Its greatest drawback is not the mold per se, but is the exceptional prequel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film)directed by David Fincher – a burden so heavy that even a nicely made, but alas generic, action thriller can’t carry.

Based on the fourth novel in the series, and the first by David Lagercrantz, the successor of original writer Stieg Larsson, whose Millennium Trilogy, were published posthumously.

Lisbeth (Claire Foy) is still at large as the hacker, detective and social justice giver for crime against women. In a sequence at the start of the movie, which was revealed in the trailer, a physically abusing businessman is slungupside down by Lisbeth and his money is transferred to his abused wife.

Spider’s Web is like that sequence – it registers well enough as a movie about a strong woman who fights crimes, does not depend much on anyone but her ingenuity and toughness. What made Lisbeth an interesting person was the internalising, dank and darkness which though present in Spider’s Web seems to have lost some of its grit in favor of a mainstream action movie formula.

Even the main plot is a typical global espionage scenario worthy of Bond. Lisbeth is commissioned to steal a software from America’s NSA by its former developer Balder (Stephen Merchant). The software called Firewall can hack into every nuclear weapons around the world and fire them from a laptop anywhere. Balder wants the software back so that he can destroy it.

Lisbeth successfully steals it, and gets tangled in a manhunt (the spider’s web, in context), with the local gangs, police and NSA agent in the mix. Lisbeth gets help from her former fling journalist Mikael Blomkvist (SverrirGudnason) – a character reprised and re-casted from the Dragon Tattoos’s Daniel Craig. There is also a subplot about Lisbeth childhood abuse and trauma.

I have not seen the Swedish films so I will refrain from commenting or comparing this movie with them. Foy’s Lisbeth is cool and calm even when she has an introverted outlook, her Lisbeth looks to have learned how to cope better with her experiences. Dragon Tattoo had cast the exceptional Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, and was a darker version that seemed to have Lisbeth bottle up everything; even a small gesture toward humanity came off as hesitant and unsure – like a frightened animal that only knows how to snare or hiss at every hand that comes close. This was also with due reason, as her personal revenge carries more nuance. In the Spider’s Web, besides Foy, rest of the cast don’t stand out or register.

Director FedeÁlvarez, who co-writes with Jay Basu and Steven Knight, does an adequate job of delivering an able actioner without losing the story side of it. Spider’s Web is good enough especially when you don’t think about what it could have been. •