Friday Flicks: The Girl in the Spider's Web

Released in 2005, author Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo became an internationally best-selling novel that launched a franchise that still excites readers to this day. The original trilogy of books quickly inspired a Swedish film adaptation. Hollywood quickly took notice and hired acclaimed director David Fincher to helm an American remake of the first film. Despite solid reviews and a breakout performance by Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, adaptations of the rest of the novels never materialized.

Fast-forward to today and the release of The Girl in the Spider's Web. The movie is based upon the fourth book in the series, the first to be authored by David Lagercrantz following Larsson's death. It has been described as both a sequel and "soft reboot" to Fincher's 2011 film. With a completely new cast and director, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Still, I enjoyed the novel enough to give this new version a fair shot.

After a flashback to Salander's childhood and an opening credits that rivals some of the best from the James Bond franchise, we immediately are given a glimpse at what Salander has been up to all these years. Claire Foy, who takes over the role from Mara, immediately shows she's not playing around. We see her discipline a man who regularly beat his wife. She hangs him from the ceiling, transfers all of his money to his wife, and tasers him. It seems the same kind of justice that Salander regularly doled out in the earlier books and movies is still commonplace.

The movie soon mirrors the plot of the novel as Salander is tasked with hacking into the American NSA to retrieve a file with cataclysmic stakes. The file has the potential to give a single user the control of the world's complete nuclear arsenal. Its creator, Frans Balder, has realized that no one should have this kind of power. Now Salander must steal it and protect it and its creator at all costs.

It is hard to judge The Girl in the Spider's Web purely on its own merit. The whole time I was watching it, I kept comparing it to the movies that have come before it. Fair or not, this latest adaptation will forever be woven into the fold with the rest of the books and films. Director Fede Alvarez, best known for his breakout hit Don't Breathe, directs the action beats in a way that is both exciting and easy to follow. Like the novel that it is based on, the film focuses more of its attention on Foy's Salander than Mikael Blomkvist, played here by Sverrir Gudnason. The movie assumes the audience will have some familiarity with the stories that have preceded it, even referencing events from the two novels that have yet to receive American adaptations.

My afternoon showing of the film was sold out, giving me hope that more movies will follow this one. While I'm not sure I liked The Girl in the Spider's Web as much as I liked Fincher's take on Dragon Tattoo, I wouldn't mind seeing more from this cast and crew. The film is not as meticulously composed as Fincher's version,  but Alvarez brings a grit, modernity, and suspense that can't be denied. There are two previous novels by Larsson and a new one by Lagercrantz, so the potential for a sequel is definitely there. Salander's character is even more relevant today with the rise of the #MeToo movement, so I could easily see more of these movies making a wave in the future.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 9, 2018 and is filed under ,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

2 Responses to “Friday Flicks: The Girl in the Spider's Web”

  1. I think I must be in the minority, but I dislike Rooney Mara and I'm not entirely sure I ever watched her version through to the end. I never bothered watching it at the movies, just waited until it appeared on tV. I have high hopes for this one -- Claire Foy for one -- and I plan to see it.

    1. It is certainly interesting to see different actresses take on the role. It kind of reminds me of how different actors have played James Bond.


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