Review: Salander slipping in stiff 'Spider's Web'

The sort-of sequel to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" lacks the urgency of the 2011 film (and the original Swedish series)

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
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Claire Foy in "The Girl in the Spider's Web."

Lisbeth Salander is a hero for our time. She's an ass-kicking cybertech warrior who rights the wrongs of men and stands up for her fellow women. 

So why does "The Girl in the Spider's Web" feel so stale? 

Partially it's because Salander's story has been mishandled in its American retelling. "The Girl in the Spider's Web" comes a long seven years after "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and after the departure of director David Fincher and star Rooney Mara from the franchise. That movie followed the three Swedish language entries in the "Millennium" series, which starred Noomi Rapace in the Salander role, and told the Salander story so well that here was no need for an American remake in the first place. 

"Spider's Web" stars Claire Foy as Salander, and is based on the first entry in the "Millennium" series not authored by creator Stieg Larsson, who died in 2004. The disconnect is obvious, and "Spider's Web" lacks the tightness of the original Swedish series and the harsh, cold brutality of Fincher's telling. 

The film finds Salander dealing with family ties she figured were long since tied. She's called into a plot involving some hacked nuclear codes ("Sorry to Bother You's" Lakeith Stanfield plays an NSA agent) and the re-emergence of her sister, whom she thought had died years earlier. (It's never good when series start falling into "missing dead relative" plot lines.)

Foy is convincingly raw as the tough-as-nails Salander, and director Fede Alvarez (the bracing "Don't Breathe") stages a stylish James Bond-type opening credit sequence, as well as an exhilarating motorcycle getaway over a sheet of frozen ice. 

But there's nothing about "The Girl in the Spider's Web" that feels pressing or timely, or like we need to be revisiting the Salander character. She's a hero for today, but in this telling she feels like yesterday's news.


'The Girl in the Spider's Web'


Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity

Running time: 117 minutes

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