Movie Reviews

Published on November 8th, 2018 | by Michael Newman


The Girl In The Spiders Web

There has definitely been a shift in the characters that women are portraying in the movies. No longer happy to be relegated to the damsel in distress who is looking for their Prince Charming to rescue them, they become bad-ass avengers who aren’t afraid to kick-butt and take names. There is no better example of this than Lisbeth Salander, everyone’s favorite goth super-hacker and vigilante. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the best-selling novel of the same name, we see Lisbeth at her finest and it is an action packed, butt kicking good time.


Lisbeth (Claire Foy) leads a life as a vigilante who targets men that abuse woman ensuring they pay for their evil deeds. She’s not afraid to play hardball and threaten their very existence to ensure that justice is served. In the middle of punishing all the right people, Lisbeth receives a hacking opportunity that she can’t refuse, involving an application where simply logging in allows you to take over the world’s nuclear weapons. This super application was originally created and sold to the NSA in Washington and Lisbeth is tasked with stealing it back and returning it to the original creator so that it can be properly destroyed. Lisbeth successfully steals the application but that then makes her the target of not only the NSA whom she had stolen it from originally, but also another secretive group who has their own nefarious plans.


The film quickly goes from Lisbeth and her “simple” vigilante ways to becoming a global thriller that spans multiple countries and agencies. Not only does the plot change quickly but Lisbeth’s character also morph’s from being a Black Canary type vigilante to becoming a female version of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt. Even though playing a female Ethan Hunt is different from Lisbeth’s usual trope her skills fit nicely into her new role. Her ability to hack into any computer system comes in handy quite a few times and lets us have a tie to the Lisbeth we know and love, but we also get to see her flex her wits and general bad-assery a bit deeper during her “impossible mission”. The film was definitely not what I expected but I was still pleasantly surprised.


The Swedish setting where the movie takes place was gorgeous and varies from desolate abandoned buildings to chases in the middle of sprawling cities. It utilizes the snow-covered landscape and decrepit buildings to create a sense of isolation, even when the streets themselves are packed with cars. Along with the isolation from the setting we also see the use of both old and new technology, which gives a low-tech feel to what is an otherwise a high stakes mission. Both the setting and the technology allows us to see that Lisbeth is a force to be reckoned with no matter what type of adversity she faces.


Which brings me to the one of the best parts of the movie and that is Claire Foy’s absolutely amazing portrayal of Lisbeth. We already knew she did a great job playing a royal in The Crown and as the wife of astronaut Neil Armstrong in First Man but relinquishing her usual elegant and classy portrayals to spectacularly play one of the biggest, baddest female characters around shows the true depth of her talent. She is definitely the star of the show and now I am an even bigger fan of hers than I already was. I was also impressed with the other main characters, including investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), who plays less of role than in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but does a great job nonetheless, and the young boy, August Balder (Christopher Convery) that holds the key to the entire mission excellently played by Christopher Convery. The trio make an unusual team, but how the characters (and actors) play on each other’s strengths and weaknesses to complement each other brings heart to a movie that could have easily been 100% an action adventure.


The one aspect I feel could (and should) have been fleshed out more, was Lisbeth’s character as a battered woman’s vigilante. The movie started off with a very strong vigilante scene, but the vigilante theme is quickly forgotten until the very end of the film where we find out it was the sole catalyst of the main adversary. This oversight sadly turned what could have been a woman’s justice vigilante movie into a more run-of-the-mill super spy movie. That’s not necessarily bad, it is still action packed and full of twists and turns, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity to show more of who Lisbeth is.


The Girl in the Spider’s Web is filled with action, gadgets, and car chases though beautiful scenery and it is an excellent movie to see if you are looking for something different than green grinches and Nazi zombies. It’s not the movie I went in expecting to see, but I’m not complaining as it is still a solid film. Even though it diverts away from the more artistic The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it is a very good action-packed thriller that would stack up nicely next to the Mission Impossible movies it is reminiscent of. It’s definitely a movie I recommend to action movie fans everywhere.


4 out of 5 stars


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