Stieg Larsson’s Millennium crime series became a significant phenomenon, although Larsson himself, who passed away in 2004, never lived to see its impact. While other books have extended the trilogy, they’ve been penned by different authors and have garnered mixed reviews. One such extension is The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which also caught the attention of Hollywood filmmakers. Opting to ignore the second and third parts of Larsson’s original trilogy, they rebooted the series with this installment. With a new creative team, a fresh leading actress, and a slightly altered approach, does the film succeed?
The short answer is yes, albeit with some caveats. The Girl in the Spider’s Web reintroduces hacker Lisbeth Salander, currently operating in Sweden. She’s seen meting out her unique form of justice to abusive men and has all but severed ties with journalist Mikael Blomkvist, whose magazine Millennium is on the brink of collapse. Lisbeth receives an offer to hack into NSA servers to steal a potentially dangerous program, but the mission goes awry when a menacing gang also covets the program. To make matters more complex, the gang’s motives are surprisingly intertwined with Lisbeth’s past.
Director Fede Alvarez takes a distinctly different approach to the Millennium series and its heroine than David Fincher did. Those expecting a sequel in Fincher’s vein may be disappointed. Here, Claire Foy’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander is both steely and vulnerable. She is a compelling character—damaged, yet resilient. Foy assumes that viewers are familiar with Lisbeth’s complex backstory, making her portrayal both a strength and a potential weakness depending on audience familiarity.
While the film doesn’t reach the depths of Fincher’s work, it’s perhaps more appropriately viewed as a continuation of the Swedish trilogy, which was less ambitious in scope. Alvarez concentrates on the thriller aspect of the story, resulting in a film that feels more like a technothriller with shades of James Bond or Jason Bourne than a psychologically intricate drama. Attempts to delve into Lisbeth’s psyche are relatively brief and somewhat superficial, but this doesn’t derail the film as an engaging spectacle.
Alvarez excels in choreographing action scenes, particularly chases, and the final half-hour is stylishly executed. Despite some narrative shortcomings, the film is skillfully shot, suspenseful, and largely devoid of dull moments. Personally, I found it more enjoyable in some ways than Fincher’s version, which rehashed a story already told in the Swedish films. Although I can’t compare it to the supposedly lackluster book it’s based on, the movie holds its own when contrasted with the original trilogy.
With its fast pacing, excellent lead performance, and adept direction, The Girl in the Spider’s Web offers a solid two hours of entertainment. It serves as a satisfactory modern crime drama with impressive action sequences and smart directorial choices. While the film may be slightly B-grade and less intellectually stimulating, it’s an enjoyable watch that I wouldn’t mind seeing extended into another installment.
Watch The Girl In The Spider’s Web For Free On Gomovies.