The latest Lisbeth Salander movie, The Girl in the Spider's Web, is now in theaters, but critics have been largely negative about this newest installment in the film series based on the works of Stieg Larsson. Claire Foy takes on the provocative lead role of Salander in Spider's Web - a definite change-up from her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in the TV series The Crown. The movie also stars Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant and Vicky Krieps.
The original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo novel, written by the late Stieg Larsson, was first adapted into a Swedish film in 2009, with Noomi Rapace as the vengeful, gothy computer hacker Salander. Rapace reprised the role in two sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. Director David Fincher and actress Rooney Mara then teamed up for the 2011 American remake of Dragon Tattoo, but although the film was a success, plans to adapt the next two Larsson novels never came to fruition. The original Dragon Tattoo novels, referred to as the Millennium trilogy, were followed up by The Girl in the Spider's Web, with David Lagercrantz taking over authorial duties from the late Larsson.
Fede Alvarez, the man who rebooted Evil Dead, stepped in to direct Spider's Web after David Fincher bowed out of the franchise. So, how does the new movie stack up against the previous four? Not well, if the reviews are anything to go by. Alvarez's effort at continuing the Salander saga currently holds just a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 86% for both the Swedish and American versions of the original Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played With Fire sits at 69% on RT, while The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is at 53%. Here is a sampling of some of the more brutal reviews that have come in for the The Girl in the Spider's Web:
There’s no chance for any energy or fun, which is a problem for a movie that’s trying to present itself as a secret-agent thriller. Rest assured, in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lisbeth Salander saves the day, and she looks cool doing it. But this is a story so slick that she’d be rolling her eyes if she watched it.
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is essentially the cinematic equivalent of a clip-on version of the nose ring that its central character famously sports throughout—a simulacrum that tries to evoke the edge and danger of the real thing without betraying even the slightest amount of genuine commitment. Seemingly made only so that it can one day wind up in constant rotation on basic cable, it is the kind of meaningless product that may win a weekend or two at the box office but which will barely be remembered by most people only a few weeks from now.
It was probably inevitable that Hollywood would neuter the best elements of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” franchise, but did the producers really need to shift it into a commonplace cross between a superhero flick and James Bond?
With its palette of chilly slate grays and smattering of unremarkable action sequences, Spider’s Web will likely be a letdown for fans who once embraced Salander’s bold queerness and bleak nihilism. Now she’s just another interchangeable Hollywood action hero. I’d be shocked if she returned for another sequel — and a bit relieved if she didn’t.
Anything that was interesting about Lisbeth in the original narrative... has been written out. As of "Spider's Web," she's just another glowering vigilante superhero packaged for maximum consumption on airplane flights and downstream video.
Not all the reviews of Girl in the Spider's Web have been negative though. Some critics have given the film a thumbs-up for its action, and many have singled out Claire Foy for particular praise for her performance as Lisbeth Salander.
As reboots go, "The Girl in the Spider's Web" features several notable upgrades, including Claire Foy as its star... At the very least, Foy's insertion into the franchise works, in a vehicle that delivers enough of the requisite thrills to be eminently watchable.
Showing athletic grace and a knack for always being a dozen steps ahead of her pursuers, Foy has a ball with the role while also supplying the nuance and grace notes that the too-busy script leaves out... It’s Foy who holds us in thrall by taking us deeper into who Lisbeth is than ever before.
It is no threat to the original Swedish trilogy, or even to David Fincher's take, but this souped up, action-filled sequel might be enough to satisfy genre fans with a still-intriguing heroine in this #MeToo age.
Sony undoubtedly hopes to launch a franchise with The Girl in the Spider's Web, but audiences will ultimately decide if that ever happens. It also remains to be seen if Foy will get a chance to come back and play the character again. As always, we encourage you to go and check out the movie for yourselves if you've been looking forward to it - just in case the critics are wrong.
- The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018