THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB is the latest film from director Fede Álvarez (Don’t Breathe). The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, which is the fourth novel in the Millenium series. THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB stars Claire Foy (Netflix’s The Crown), Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049), Sverrir Gudnason (A Serious Game), and Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You).
The film focuses on a former member of the NSA (National Security Agency) reaching out to known vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salandar in order to steal a computer program he had worked on prior to his firing. The program is called FireWall and, as Lisbeth discovers, it is program that can acquire the access codes for all of the world’s nuclear weapons. Balder, the former agent, wants to destroy the program. However, Lisbeth’s meddling brings consequences. Her hacking brings the attention of a Russian gang known as the Spiders who unleash destruction upon Salander’s home and destroy anyone in their path in order to acquire this program.
If Salander didn’t have enough on her plate, she has a slew of criminal charges attached to her name thanks to her previous actions unleashing vigilante justice. Then there’s another NSA agent she has attracted to Stockholm after she illegally downloaded the FireWall program off of his computer back in the states. The two end up teaming up after the Spiders kidnap Balder’s child, who is the only one who knows how to make the FireWall program activate. Along the way, Salander will also uncover a devastating secret about her family, which may prove to unlock further hell upon those around her.
I’ll start off by saying that this is arguably the weakest adaptation of a Millenium novel to date and a lot of it has to do with the writing. When Swedish novelist and journalist David Lagercrantz took over writing for the Millenium series after the trilogy became successful, there were many who did not know whether or not he could capture the tone of the original novels. If this film adaptation is anything to judge by, it seems THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB may have diverged off of what made the Millenium trilogy so interesting in the first place. Gone is the intrigue and mystery from the original trilogy. What has replaced it is a variety of fast-paced action sequences that can be found in many a Hollywood film and a plot that seemed generic and underwhelming given previous adaptations.
However, the best part of this film was being able to see how Claire Foy brought Lisbeth Salander to life. Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the final product. When I had heard she had been cast to play the character, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. After seeing her in so many period pieces, the casting of her as Lisbeth seemed against type. However, Foy managed to grasp the full essence of what makes Lisbeth Salander who she is while also injecting a more apparent vulnerability that hasn’t quite been thoroughly displayed in previous film incarnations. If there is a chance for a follow up to this film, I’d love to see Claire Foy back in the role of Lisbeth just to see what she can do next.
Overall, I think this adaptation had a lot working against it in order to make the storyline easier to digest for the general audience. Although the film was not as bad as critics made it out to be at the time of release, the emphasis on action over the general intrigue that the Millenium novels have come to embody ends up cheapening the overall film. How much of this is influenced by novelist David Lagercrantz’s influence on the fourth novel has yet to be determined. Claire Foy is a shining light in this film, creating a more vulnerable Lisbeth while still maintaining the core of what the character is.
What I personally would like to see is a version of THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB that harkens back to the original film trilogy, with the same grittiness and tone that helped the movies transcend past their former literary sources. If Hollywood were able to manage that instead of producing a slick, cleaner version for the palate to handle, then I think this film could have done very well.
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.