The Girl in the Spider’s Web film (2018) review

The Girl in the Spider's Web is a good movie with lots of action and a deeper exploration of Salander's character. Clare Foy does a good job in the lead role and makes up for some cliched plot points.

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is based on the fourth book in the ‘Millennium’ series of novels. The first three were written by Stieg Larsson and then, following his death, the series has continued under the authorship of David Lagercrantz. He has written two more books with a third already planned.

The three original Larsson stories were made into movies in Sweden in 2009. Hollywood then made its own version of the first movie — ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ — starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander.

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is another Hollywood production, this time starring Sverrir Gudnason as Blomkvist and Clair Foy as Salander.

I’ve read all the books and seen both the Swedish and Hollywood versions of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. The Swedish version is, in my opinion, the better one. There’s an atmosphere that the Hollywood version can’t replicate, although it has a good try.

There is no Swedish version to compare ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ with, so I can only review it as a standalone Hollywood film.

The film begins with Lisbeth Salander continuing her vigilante role as a protector of women who are abused by men, using violence and blackmail to exact revenge on those men.

Salander then gets employed by computer scientist Frans Balder to steal his own computer program from the NSA. This program — ‘Firefall’ — contains the world’s nuclear codes and Balder doesn’t think it should be in the hands of any country, despite him being in the employ of the NSA.

Other people want this program too. I won’t spoil things by telling you who but Balder is eventually killed and his young son — August, a mathematical savant — is the only person who can decrypt the program. Salander rescues August and thus the plot gets firmly underway.

The first thing I would note is that there’s a lot more in the book than there is in the film, but that’s often the case with adaptations of novels. Also, when reading a book we invent our own films in our heads but when watching films we simply get the director’s interpretation of things, which often doesn’t match our own. That’s just the way it is and we have to accept that.

I think this film is generally quite good. Claire Foy is quite good as Lisbeth, which I think is a difficult role to get right, and there is plenty of action and tension in the film.

The whole nuclear codes thing is a variation on a theme that has been done many times before, but that can be ignored as it turns out to be a minor plot point. The film is essentially about Lisbeth’s reconciliation of certain things from her past (which, again, I won’t spoil for you).

The film didn’t get a brilliant reception, managing only a box office fifth place on its debut and achieving 40% on Rotten Tomatoes and 43% on Metacritic.

As is often the case, I disagree with the critics a bit. I don’t think this film will move anyone’s world or sit as anyone’s “best ever” but it’s decent enough entertainment and above average as far as I’m concerned.

Stieg Larsson invented a fine character with Lisbeth Salander and the films can be enjoyed for the exploration of that character alone. She’s many sorts of contradictions and, when brought to life by a good actress, such an interesting character can carry a film’s plot nicely.

I enjoyed this film and it held my attention throughout.