Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Claire Foy, Stephen Merchant, Sverrir Gudnason
Running time: 115 minutes
Verdict: Foy gets down and dirty in this solid stab at a female action franchise
“Soft reboot” is something of a misnomer; The Girl In the Spider’s Web goes in hard and fast.
While Lisbeth Salander’s social skills leave a bit to be desired, she’s certainly got some spectacular party tricks.
A personal favourite is the leap of faith the bisexual, black leather-clad avenger makes, astride her matte black Ducati, onto a frozen lake.
At the other end of the elemental spectrum is the incineration of Salander’s Stockholm apartment, while she holds her breath in the bathtub.
Like The Terminator, the rogue computer hacker and champion of ill-treated women would appear to be damn near indestructible.
In his adaptation of the fourth book of the Millennium series, Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) reimagines Salander in the mould of a female Bourne or Bond.
She’s more action heroine than dark and psychologically twisted guardian angel.
And while the film’s opening sequence harks back to her vigilante, domestic violence roots — Salander deals swiftly and mercilessly with a corporate misogynist — she soon turns her attention to saving the world.
Even though the set pieces are bigger and more explosive, however, Steig Larsson’s distinctive character is still immediately recognisable — no matter that she’s now being played by a different actress entirely.
Claire Foy takes over the role from Noomi Rapace, who played Salander in the Swedish film adaptations, and Rooney Mara, who starred in David Fincher’s US remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opposite Daniel Craig.
The Girl In the Spider’s Web is the first book in the Millennium series not to be written by Larsson, who died before his best-selling trilogy was published.
In David Lagercrantz’s continuation of the series, Salander is hired by computer scientist Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) to destroy the program he created, which can access the codes of every nuclear weapon on the planet.
Her success attracts the attention of a bunch of ruthless Russian gangsters known as the Spider Society as well as the Swedish Secret Service and America’s National Security Agency.
There’s also a complicated subplot involving Salander’s dark family history and an estranged sister.
Best known for her Emmy Award-winning performance as the young Queen Elizabeth in Netflix’s first two seasons of The Crown, Foy showed just how convincingly she could scrap in Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller Unsane.
Now, she adds bad-ass action heroine to her expanding repertoire.
Foy’s Salander has less sharp edges than her predecessors, but the actress brings a winning combination of toughness and vulnerability to the role.
The Girl In the Spider’s Web is Foy’s vehicle — pudding bowl haircut and all.
The role of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, played here by Icelandic actor Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs McEnroe), is downsized accordingly.
This female-driven action adventure won’t please the purists, but it gets the job done.
The defender of wronged woman has broadened her horizons — to saving the planet as well as vulnerable little boys.’
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB OPENS ON THURSDAY
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