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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) | Short, Spoiler-Free Review

I had no intention of watching this soul-sucking, studio-steered reboot, but when I found out Lakeith Stanfield was in it, I thought it deserved a shot. The man's in Sorry to Bother You (reviewed here), Uncut Gems, and Donald Glover's Atlanta just to name a few, so he picks his projects well. The Girl in the Spider's Web is no exception, even if it doesn't come close to David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Fede Álvarez's action-thriller is an adaptation, with a screenplay by Jay Bassu, Álvarez, and Steven Knight, of David Lagercrantz's first post-Stieg Larsson book. So, it's completely within reason for it to serve as both a sequel and reboot to what Fincher kicked off. From Vudu's plot description of the movie, "[Lisbeth] Salander (Claire Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials, as they race to rescue a dangerous [computer] program..." One person in the race is Edward Needham (Stanfield), on behalf of the NSA. This gives Álvarez and his crew a lot of room to take creative liberties with the world and craft something with their own stamp on it. It also gives the studios room to zero-in on what they think will attract an audience this time, action. Luckily both things work well together.

Claire Foy being a badass
Claire Foy does everything in her power to make Lisbeth her own, and she succeeds | Copyright 2018 Sony and MGM

The best examples of this are with Salander's character changes. Her edges are softened thanks to her relationship with Blomkvist, and she's infamous, since Blomkvist wrote about her. Foy still plays the part with viciousness and her guard up, like someone playing Salander should, but the character growth cracks through in moments that I didn't think the movie would take the time to show. As unlikely as it is for people to face each other in separate glass elevators, in different buildings, and get cell reception, it works. It works because at least an attempt at substance was made, and that's all I really wanted from this one. If this gets people to check out other work by these filmmakers, better work, that's definitely worth it.

3/5
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