The Girl in the Spider’s Web movie review: Fede Alvarez's reboot feels like a substandard fan film
The Girl in the Spider’s Web feels like a third tier film put together for the express purpose of annoying its viewers.
castClaire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant
What happens when you take a perfectly good product, dilute it a little bit after slapping it onto a shiny new box, and when no one buys it you dilute it again and try to sell it to people? For one, you end up with a lot of irate customers and secondly, you invite a fairly large amount of ridicule for using the worst possible tactics in an effort to sell substandard product. This is, unfortunately how The Girl in the Spider’s Web feels – like a third tier film put together for the express purpose of annoying its viewers.
It is surprising how bad The Girl in the Spider’s Web is considering Fede Alvarez is credited as director. This is a guy who turned the Evil Dead reboot from a potential fan roasting to a cult classic and then upped his game even further with the unique and thrilling Don’t Breathe. There is nothing unique or thrilling, however, about this film because it feels like a crappy fan film one finds on YouTube. Why it feels like this is immediately clarified when you realise that the film is based on David Lagercrantz’s book which is widely accepted as one of the worst in the series.
This is more of a reboot than a sequel, so even if you missed the Fincher remake, you won’t have a hard time catching up the events in this film. We’re once again introduced to Lisbeth Salander (this time played by Claire Foy) who is now a full blown hacking expert who moonlights as the digital Robin Hood. Things take a turn when she is contacted by Frans (Stephen Merchant) who turns out to be the creator of Firewall, a code that serves as a big red button for some nuclear weapons. Fearing that it may be put to ill use, Frans hands Salander the task of retrieving the codes – but since this is a movie things don’t go according to plan.
The problem with the film is that it feels too desperate to look cool and be as gritty as the previous installments. The visual elements stand out only because they seem like cheap knock offs of the earlier films. This includes Foy as Salander who seems like she’s cosplaying as the character as opposed to totally disappearing into the role the way Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace did. The plot veers into Jason Bourne territory so there’s a curious emphasis on the action, but it is bland, and the lack of a big budget shows in pretty much every instance. Salander’s skill set of hacking is given a ‘coolth’ that is only reminiscent of the 90’s camp classic Hackers, which is made even worse by how serious the plot is.
There are also some questionable deus ex machina moments that are strictly utilised to pull Salander out of danger repeatedly, which somewhat undermines the spirit of the character because it seems like she gets over her problems only due to something being handed, rather than her finding it and kicking ass. The original films and even Fincher’s remake had a pulpy streak to them, and they embraced all manners of human nastiness; this film however sanitises everything that was risqué in the previous films. Whoever thought that turning an adult store into a kids’ toy factory would sell toys is obviously on the wrong side of the creative arts industry.
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