The Girl in the Spider’s Web struggles to get going

Golden Globe winner Claire Foy is Lisbeth Salander in a new entry in the thriller series that commenced with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Stylish cinematography can’t paper over perfunctory plotting and poor characterisation, writes Katie Parker.


It’s been 11 years since the Swedish successfully adapted the bestselling Millenium book series to the screen, and seven years since David Fincher unsuccessfully tried to bring it to Hollywood.

Now The Girl in the Spider’s Web, sort-of-sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the book was not penned by Dragon’s late author Stieg Larsson), has been adapted into a movie, directed by Don’t Breathe’s Fede Álvarez and starring The Crown‘s Claire Foy. Whether you were wanting her or not, Lisbeth Salander is back.

The Girl in The Spider’s Web, un-enticingly being peddled as a “soft reboot” for the franchise, sees the enigmatic computer hacker (and sometime feminist vigilante) now off the grid, haunted by an abusive childhood and the death of her younger sister.

Taking on dangerous jobs for powerful people, Lisbeth is employed a former NSA employee seeking to destroy the program he (stupidly) invented, which can access every nuclear code in the world.

Predictably, once Salandar is in possession of the program things go badly awry. Led into the dark netherworld of an organised crime ring calling themselves the ‘Spiders’ she soon discovers that (wouldn’t you know it) they have connections to her traumatic past.

The story—which is essentially the same as the most recent Bond film only with more allusions to childhood sexual abuse —plays out in a perfunctory fashion that, while stylishly filmed, struggles to get going.

Salandar, now apparently an expert at espionage as well as computer hacking, never really seems in danger; Her journalist manfriend, Mikael Blomkvist, is turned into a dishy pretty boy who feels random at all times; meanwhile, the villains, all cartoonish Eurotrash, are barely even in it.

As a mostly fast-moving, enjoyably scenic, totally empty Scandi thriller it basically does its job. But as an attempt to kick-start a new surge of interest in the Salandar story, it is pretty hard to imagine The Girl in the Spider’s Web having much luck.