Sometimes, the biggest mistake one can make before going to see a reboot of a series is watching the original the night before. Two days before seeing The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018), I knew very little about Lisbeth Salander or Mikael Blomkvist, but I decided I had to see Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) before seeing Fede Alvarez’s new film. Big mistake, as all I could do was compare the two films, and worse – the two takes on Salander.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a pale comparison to Dragon Tattoo
Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) has become more of a legend in the hacking community and is hired by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) to steal back his software from the American government. This software would allow a single individual access to the world’s nuclear missiles. She allows her self to take the job – and from that moment on, nothing quite goes right again. Salander finds herself the target of several different entities as she sets out to correct her mistakes.
Claire Foy is a good actress. Her take on Lisbeth is not supposed to be the same character from The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, in the sense of personality. There is a significant length of time passes between the two stories, and Lisbeth has changed as a result. Foy plays Lisbeth like the female answer to James Bond, which is definitely the vibe Alvarez seems to be going for. Her hacking is much more exaggerated, and even the action sequences feel more out of a Bond film that the dark and gritty Dragon Tattoo film by Fincher. One has to look no further than the open title sequence to observe the Bond influence. Thus, it is unfair for me to dislike Foy’s performance, since it’s not like Mara’s…but I just couldn’t shake the comparison.
I loved Mara’s performance so much that this version of the character that Foy delivers felt almost too comic bookish. The mystique I felt around Mara’s character is gone. Technically it would make sense since this is years later and Lisbeth has apparently been through much since then. Still, this wasn’t as compelling a film, and thus I cared far less for her. Foy does deliver another strong performance but in a far inferior film. The best thing that I think comes from this movie is that Lakeith Stanfield can, and should, be an action star. He totally pulls off his nerdy, hacker/bad-ass role he is placed in.
A lot of what happens in this film is based on coincidence, which is something that happens in a number of spy type movies. Things work out perfectly, and we are led to believe it was all according to plan – but rarely is there any evidence for us to believe most of the events could have been planned that way. It damages the stakes in a way as we start to realize that our protagonist is untouchable.
In the end, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a pale comparison to the masterful Fincher film. I don’t think they are supposed to be truly connected, but they most certainly are by the source material. This is a mediocre action flick with a slightly compelling protagonist, whose backstory is hinted out – knowing that backstory makes you realize what a miss this film really is. This web earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.