1 ½ (out of 4)
Claire Foy is having an exemplary breakout year and a leading role in a film as mediocre as The Girl in the Spider’s Web can’t hamper the momentum of her ascending career. She was the phenomenal face of Steven Soderbergh's Unsane – perhaps the most underrated movie of the year – and Foy is likely to lock down a Best Supporting Actress nomination for First Man.
As the newest Lisbeth Salander, Foy is suitable enough as the hot topic hacker but she doesn't possess the right shade of brooding, fragile vigor embodied by Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara. Still she manages to considerably enhance the material with her capable presence in spite of a flimsy accent. Miscasting is the least of the problems with Spider’s Web – the faithful Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s beloved trilogy as well as David Fincher’s robust American remake all offer unquestionably superior adult escapism. If the latest film seems like an off-brand reboot, it's because the substandard incarnation stems from books written by David Lagercrantz, Larsson’s successor to the Millennium series following his death in 2004.
While director Fede Álvarez rightfully made 2016's Don’t Breathe an enjoyable horror hit after initiating his career with a Sam Raimi-approved Evil Dead redo, his inky, icy touch isn’t enough to either improve a deficient script he helped pen or give Lisbeth back her established infamy. To be fair, even Fincher’s meticulous murkiness couldn’t redeem the trite tangle of Spider’s Web, which takes everything annoyingly implausible about Jason Bourne movies twice as serious. There are a few neat sequences in the first act but once Salander's story is wrapped up with Lakeith Stanfield’s overly gifted NSA agent, a targeted youngster (Christopher Convery) comically forced into her care and a long lost sister slash cartoon villain played by Sylvia Hoeks (Luv of Blade Runner 2049), the plotting becomes plodding.
The emotional pivots of the film are as flaccid and formulaic as they are in something like the average James Bond movie. Spider’s Web pedestrian script chooses to forgo the mystery element of the series in order to posit itself as a fashionably clichéd action movie just violent enough to bear an R rating, convoluted enough to qualify as mature and packed with enough tepid confrontations and spyware to call it a thriller. This Girl's worst sin is it stretches a meager 43 million dollar budget into blockbuster bucks, actively assisting audience boredom by amping up what should be mostly macabre and enigmatic. Ironically every attempt to inject excitement into this misguided bit of brand burnishing is another compounding instance of disinterest within a guessable narrative.
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