Combustible Celluloid
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With: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Merchant, Sylvia Hoeks, Vicky Krieps, Cameron Britton, Christopher Convery, Andreja Pejic
Written by: Jay Basu, Fede Alvarez, Steven Knight, based on a novel by David Lagercrantz
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Running Time: 117
Date: 11/09/2018

The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story (2018)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Salander Dressing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This fifth in the Dragon Tattoo series offers Claire Foy as a strong new Lisbeth Salander, but the movie doesn't quite work; it takes itself far too seriously for its ridiculous plot and flat supporting characters.

In The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story, we flash back to Lisbeth Salander's childhood with her sister Camilla and their abusive father. Lisbeth attempts to escape with her sister, but winds up getting out alone. Years later, the grown Lisbeth (Foy) continues to use her hacking skills to track down and punish hateful men.

She gets an offer to steal a piece of dangerous weapons-oriented software and return it to its creator (Stephen Merchant), but she finds that a murderous organization called the Spiders is also after it. She enlists the aid of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) and an American NSA agent, Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield) — who was hoping to secure the software for the USA — to put an end to the trouble. But Lisbeth gets a surprise when she discovers just who is behind it all.

The Girl in the Spider's Web is the first movie to be adapted from a novel by David Lagercrantz, who took over the series from the late Stieg Larsson. The first three movies, based on Larsson's books, were made in Sweden with Noomi Rapace; then David Fincher directed a very strong American version of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with Rooney Mara. Despite how perfectly Foy clicks into the hard, fierce role, this new movie feels like a big step down, a pale imitation of its predecessors.

Director Fede Alvarez fared better in smaller-scale horror movies (Evil Dead, Don't Breathe), but all he can manage here is to shake the camera during fight scenes. The plot's prize, software that allows anyone with a computer access to the world's nuclear codes, is just flat-out dumb, and the character motivations for obtaining it are equally shaky.

Played by Sylvia Hoeks, the Camilla character, perhaps intended to flesh out Lisbeth's past, is nothing more than a one-dimensional psychopath, totally uninteresting, and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) has almost nothing to do. Not even interesting actors like Stanfield or Merchant can add anything to their roles; they're so generically written that virtually anyone could have played them. Only Foy comes out well here. If the series manages to continue after this dud, she could be a highlight.

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