The Girl in the Spider's Web review
In the mist of guarded computer networks and closed circuits, is the vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander. She's the title character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it's subsequent sequels written by Stieg Larsson. This is an example of a dark character with a dark past and I mean really dark. The Millennium series, as it's often called, uses her background to tie in with the stories themes of humanity on the brink of insanity, with people willing to engage in rape, torture, and even incest. Because of this, these books have a history of being bleak, but very gripping thrillers that should translate to screen fine.
The first three books were made in the book's home country of Sweden and the first got an American remake by David Fincher. Each of the movies were capable of adapting the darker material while offering some relief by getting to know more of the characters like Lisbeth and publisher/writer Mikael Blomkvist. Their not easy stories to watch, especially with family, but they still manage to be entertaining movies. It had baffled me for a while for why more American adaptations haven't happened. We finally get a continuation that was written after the author's death, The Girl in the Spider's Web.
Underground hacker Lisbeth Salander (played by Claire Foy)is hired to acquire a program from the American NSA, something called Firefall, which is capable of accessing nuclear launch codes all over the world. She does get it, but finds that the password system is a complex puzzle she cannot figure out. On top of that, the program is taken by a gang who attempt to kill her. She manages to get out and evade authorities when it's believed that she kept the program for herself.
Upon seeing she's a wanted criminal, former lover/partner Mikael Blomkvist (played by Sverrir Gudnason) manages to track her and he agrees to find out more about the gang that attacked. It's believed that the gang, called "the spiders" had worked for Lisbeth's father. This is an area that Lisbeth had tried to ignore, due to the bad memories of growing up with him. Regardless, she's also in a complicated state as her sister Camilla (played by Sylvia Hoeks) chose to stay with her father and may be coming back into the picture. It's a race to see if Lisbeth can finally deal with her haunted past.
I have to give some credit to The Girl in the Spider's Web for trying to give Lisbeth more of an insight into her character's history. The problem is that unlike the David Fincher original that still felt like a bleaker mystery, this tries to make the character into a superhero. Don't get me wrong, in the books, Lisbeth loves taking on a challenge, but with how many people she's willing to work for, it seems way too out of character to want to work for any of these characters…or be a target of these organizations.
The other big problem of the story is how useless Blomkvist is this time around. Much of his material could have been cut and nothing would have been missed. Actor Sverrir Gudnason is so bland and generic as him, that I barley remember anything he added, and yet I still recall everything that Daniel Craig added before. Don't forget, he has a big part in the other Steig Larsson novels!
If there is someone that is giving a hundred and ten percent, that is Claire Foy. She does embody much of the anger and angst I'd expect out of Lisbeth Salander. She was probably the one that even got me to remember the majority of the movie.
Speaking of which, let's get to another problem of the movie; it's story. The previous American movie had Blomkvist and Salander solving a major family mystery. Now, their trying to stop government corruption, gang warfare and nuclear missile codes. This is a lot their trying to add on to make the hero seem important. Again, everything goes back to motivation and I see little cause of Lisbeth to become interested. They try to throw in her character's sister to make it more personal, but we rarely, if ever, get much of a reaction. If she doesn't care and wouldn't change from this, then why should I care?
I'll give this one and a half Stieg Larsson books out of five. In an age where people are demanding more diverse characters, it's strange that more care isn't put into these Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies. Maybe a different writer could have done something much better. But if this is where things are going for Lisbeth, I think you can log off and search elsewhere.