The Girl In The Spider's Web (2018)

The Girl in the Spider's Web poster.pngDirector: Fede Álvarez
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Starring: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, LaKeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Synnøve Macody Lund, Cameron Britton, Andreja Pejić, Mikael Persbrandt, Volker Bruch

After a trilogy of Stieg Larsson's planned novels were posthumously published, Lisbeth Salander became a cultural icon, lending way to a successful trilogy, and an acclaimed but underseen remake. With the source material continuing on under the pen of writer David Lagercrantz, Sony are keen to follow suit and further Salander's cinematic presence however possible.

While moonlighting as an avenger of abused women, expert hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is hired to retrieve a dangerous computer program named Firefall. After finding herself attacked, Firefall falls into the wrong hands, and her apartment is left destroyed. In order to get it back, she finds herself reunited with her friend, Mikael Bomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), while being made to face ghosts from her past.

Choosing to deliver a soft reboot, an entirely new cast and crew are on-hand to adapt the fourth novel. The result feels like an attempt to turn Salander into a franchise worthy hero, ready to stand alongside James Bond or Ethan Hunt, as the plot sees her trying to stop a nuclear threat which could threaten the world. It's great to see a go being made at a female hero, ready to stand alongside such enduring action heroes, but this feels like an try which can't match the ambition. It feels like the more interesting edges of the character have been sanded away, resulting in a disappointingly generic tale. This is especially dispiriting with Fede Álvarez directing, who unfortunately fails to replicate the overwhelming tension of his previous two films.

Credit where it's due, the cast do the best they can. Marking the third take on the eponymous girl, Claire Foy ensures her iteration stands apart from that which came before her. Her Lisbeth does hide her emotions beneath an evident, simmering rage, but is clearly emotionally affected by the personal stakes involved in this mission. Much as there's multiple valid answers as to a persons favourite portrayal of 007, this reviewer predicts the same shall be true of Lisbeth Salander.

Sporting a red dress and a platinum blonde hairstyle, Sylvia Hoeks is relishing her role, right down to humming the incey wincey spider during the final act, while LaKeith Stanfield is entertaining as an NSA agent drawn into the conflict. But they're all limited by a lacklustre script, which can only take the cast so far. Lisbeth and Mikael are the heart of this franchise, and have been estranged due to the latter printing personal truths about the former. It's a conflict which feels understandable, but the short amount of time devoted leaves it feeling underdeveloped, and deserving of more exploration.

There are high aspirations for the franchise in The Girl In The Spider's Web, which the cast are more than ready to try and match. Shame the script is less ambitious, though. If the franchise is to continue on, at the very least there's a great cast on-hand to work with the material.