Explaining The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story is a bit of a mouthful. It’s an adaptation of the David Lagercrantz novel and sequel to 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – a remake of the popular 2009 Swedish film series.
Now that that’s out the way, The Girl in The Spider Web is much from the other films, the biggest difference being Claire Foy playing Lisbeth Slander. Lisbeth is an iconic character previous played by Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace.
This story opens with Lisbeth as a vigilante hacker, righting the wrongs of men and riding her matte black Ducati through the streets of Stockholm like a reckless Postmates delivery driver. She’s given a job to retrieve a top secret NASA program called Firewall, a program that lets you access nuclear codes. Lisbeth’s job is to retrieve the program from the NSA server and deliver it.
Of course, a gang of highly skilled criminals known as The Spiders want the codes for non-specific heinous reasons. We all know criminal organizations love nuclear codes. Meanwhile, NSA employee Edwin Neeham (LaKeith Stanfield) makes his way to Stockholm to track down Lisbeth and get Firewall back.
The Girl in the Spider Web looks like a Dragon Tattoo movie and Foy looks like someone playing Lisbeth, but it doesn’t feel anything like the previous films. It’s like the furniture set ups in IKEA. It’s staged to look like a living room and at first glance it does. The closer you look, you notice TV is plastic, and the candy in the bowl isn’t real. The only real thing is the couch – that’s The Girl in the Spider Web. It has all the ascetics of a Dragon Tattoo film but nothing that makes it feel real and most of the film feels staged.
Foy is a fine Lisbeth, despite this being a much more sanitized version of the character. She’s more of a Goth Jane Bond than a gutsy hacker that’s blinded by her relationship with Blomkvist and can’t seem to get out of her own way. This film turns Lisbeth into an action hero and not the anti-hero she’s always been – that’s always been the strength of the character.
Stanfield is good in his supporting role but suffers from a popular movie trope. He can do everything. Matter of fact, everyone in this movie can do everything. People drive on ice, steal cars, handle guns, and everyone is deadly with a weapon. Plus they’re chasing down nuclear codes like while fighting off criminals. This might as well be a Fast and the Furious movie.
The film isn’t without its fun moments. There are a few great chase sequences and some cool shootouts. The Spider’s are a mysteriously menacing group that the film could’ve used a lot more of.
The Girl in the Spider Web is an entertaining Great Value version of a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. It’s a sterilized story that wastes some of the best talent in Hollywood. The traded investigative intrigue for action and the film suffers because of it. The story could’ve been really good but settled on being safe and easily digestible.