The Girl In The Spider’s Web review

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Certificate: 15
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Charlotte Harrison

Let’s talk about the three Cs of cinema. In this case, they’re coincidence (occurrences that could happen in real life and feel believable), convenience (less likely to happen in real life but they work well within the plot) and contrivance (things that would never ever happen in reality). Each requires an increasing suspension of disbelief, but problems arise when the film relies on that so greatly the audience stops believing in the events or the characters entirely. And that’s what happens with franchise reboot The Girl In The Spider’s Web.

The set-up sees Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) continuing to remain as off the grid as possible, at least as much as she can whilst punishing the male perpetrators of violence against women. When a new client makes contact, informing her of a computer scientist (Stephen Merchant) who has links to a project with links to weapons of mass destruction, she becomes drawn into a spider’s web of events that is being manipulated by someone very close to her.

The frustrating thing here though is how good the on-screen talent is, and how poorly they’re served. Foy is unsurprisingly excellent as Lisbeth, perhaps not equal to Noomi Rapace but close to Rooney Mara. Lakeith Stanfield makes an enjoyable appearance as the epitome of the American Secret Service’s concerns over possible terrorist warfare. We’re also given our most gentle screen incarnation of Lisabeth’s journalist friend/lover Mikael Blomkvist in the form of Swedish/Icelandic actor Sverrir Gudnason.

It feels, though, that the film wants to be the female equivalent of James Bond, with a new incarnation of the same character continuing on the story arc, just with an individual take on it. What we get is the female version of The Bourne Legacy, which replaced Matt Damon with Jeremy Renner, and director Paul Greengrass with Tony Gilroy. In the process, the film loses its personality.

Even with all the big stunts and this version of Lisbeth, the energy and spark are missing. Lisbeth feels less ‘other’ and more conventional. The pansexual oddball is abandoned in favour of a Mary Sue with a penchant for wearing leather. The implausibility of what she does and how she does it becomes less escapist and more distracting. The end product is unfortunately rather forgettable.

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