By Liz Lopez
Ever since Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” franchise was released in the United States, the triology of Swedish films based on crime novels became some of my top favorite films featuring the Lisbeth Salander character from his novels. All three films feature Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. To this date they still are favorites, even though Hollywood has stepped in and made English language adaptations of Larrson’s stories and now from David Lagercrantz. Lizbeth’s character was written very well and now in the American adaptations, the depth of the character has been watered down to what U. S. audiences are familiar with.
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is based on the novel by the late author Larsson’s successor, David Lagercrantz and it is not a total loss by any means. I am sure those viewers who are not familiar with the original Swedish films will enjoy it for what it is and director Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe”) is excellent in his delivery of the big action, fast – paced thriller.
In this latest adaptation by the Americans, actresses Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara have been replaced by Claire Foy (“The Crown,” “First Man”). She is very good in the role from the screenplay written by Jay Basu, Alvarez and Steven Knight, based on the David Lagercrantz novel with Larsson’s characters considering there is limited depth to Salander’s character as we know what fans have seen before. Icelandic-Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason (“Borg McEnroe”) stars as Mikael Blomkvist, but the English script is not strong enough to present any chemistry between him and the co-star as they historically had in the past stories. This script does not do enough to show newer audiences what is Lizbeth’s connection to Blomkvist and why she would seek him out with her mission.
Salander first “takes care” of an abusive husband and sets the lady and her child up for life with his money. She is soon contacted by a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee, Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant), to help with a near impossible task and that is music to her ears. What she thinks is a no brainer job results in unforeseen steps in the system and other obstacles (Russian thugs) she has to address first. When Balder thinks he made a mistake, he takes his young son August (Christopher Convery) to seek help from the Swedish Secret Service (SAPO). Deputy Director Gabriella Grane (Synnøve Macody Lund) helps him, but when the American NSA agent, Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield, “Sorry to Bother You”) shows up in Stockholm, SAPO is not pleased with the American interference.
Naturally, the Russians step in and now there is an appearance of Salander’s long-lost evil sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks), not seen – just mentioned in the prior films. There are plenty of action sequences of who will end up with the very item that kicked off the mission, including the usual explosions, car chases, and usual American fare we have been fed before. Not all bland, but just the usual.
Salander has had her history of trauma since childhood and the face – off with her sister is about the first time I remember seeing Salander appear other than the tough cookie she portrays. Let’s see what the next adaptation will bring.
Additional cast: Claes Bang, Vicki Krieps, Cameron Britton, Beau Gadsdon, Carlotta von Falkenhayn, Hendrik Heutmann, and Sonja Chan among others.
The film is rated R and has a running time of 117 minutes.
Source: Columbia Pictures