Director: Fede Alvarez
Release Date: November 9th, 2018
Filled with over-the-top explosions, high-speed car chases, and fights involving herds of Russian mercenaries, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is closer to a mindless Jason Bourne movie than to David Fincher’s 2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
After seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011, I was eagerly awaiting a sequel to find out what happens next with badass computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
Over the years I had almost come to terms that we weren’t getting a sequal. Finally, in 2018, we got The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the fourth book in the best-selling Swedish crime novels “Millennium” series created by Stieg Larsson. This was the first one not written by Larsson, who died in 2004. David Lagercrantz picked up in 2015 writing the next two installments. Without movies based on The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, it’s unclear whether this is intended to be a sequel, reboot or both.
When I first saw the trailer for Spider’s Web, my first reaction was to wonder why Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara wasn’t brought back as Lisbeth Salander. Turns out director Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) did not want to use Fincher’s cast and convinced the studio to let him cast his own version. Alvarez went with Claire Foy (First Man, The Crown) as Lisbeth and Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs. McEnroe) as journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
Their performances are subpar, especially Gudnason’s. Anytime he was on the screen I wanted to take a bathroom break or go get more popcorn. The on-screen chemistry between the two is nonexistent. I wasn’t convinced that these two people knew each other at all, let alone were carrying some sort of on and off romantic relationship, for who knows how long since it’s unclear how much time has passed since Dragon Tattoo.
The plot follows your normal big-budget blockbuster movie: The protagonist must go on a seemingly impossible mission to save the world from some sort of terrorist group yada yada yada happy ending. This turns off anyone who loved Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo because we are making a huge leap.
Our characters went from spending long hours in a library digging through old newspaper articles and doing interviews to catch a serial killer of women to dodging over-the-top explosions, getting caught in high-speed car chases, and fighting off herds of Russian mercenaries with the fate of the world in the balance.
This movie is in a completely different universe to be considered a sequel. If it’s a reboot, fine. But then why do we care about the unconvincing complicated romantic history between the two main characters? Director Fede Alvarez spent no time developing this relationship that we are supposed to care about and makes for an already bore-you-to-sleep-save-the-world plot-line even more uninteresting because we don’t care about the characters.
As a sequel you’re left disappointed. Spider’s Web more closely resembles a B-rate James Bond movie than Fincher’s dark, edgy murder mystery. As a reboot you’re confused and not invested in anything or anyone in the movie. Overall this makes for a boring waste of a Thursday night. The one bright spot? Our image of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig as Mikael are not ruined. And that’s a blessing in disguise that they were not cast for again for these roles.