Lisbeth Salander, your #MeToo moment has arrived: If ever there was a perfect time for the avenging hacker of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ series to make a rebooted comeback, it’s now. So call it a spectacular failure to read the room that the new action-tooled ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ strips its hero of everything that made her spiky and singular.
It’s not that the movie doesn’t have a terrific lead (‘The Crown’s Claire Foy, who knows from mining subtle shades of rebellion) or a sleek visual template, established by David Fincher in 2011 with his Rooney Mara-led ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. Problematically, ‘Spider’s Web’ sees nothing to celebrate in Salander but a bland video-game avatar, someone who speeds across icy ponds on her Ducati, flees explosions in slo-mo and barely gets it on (one listless same-sex sleepover with a club kid hardly counts). Foy wasn’t made to frown at laptops; what little psychology there is in Lisbeth has been scaled back to nothing.
Worse, she’s up against one of those generic madman-steals-a-nuke-app scenarios that went out with Roger Moore. When Salander’s nemesis shows up – such meager pleasures shouldn’t be spoiled – she’s another woman, clad fully in red like a supervillain. Did it have to end with a color-coded catfight? Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez has the stylish ‘Don’t Breathe’ under his belt, but his pivot to the big leagues is inauspicious, dumbing everything down and wasting his shot.
BY: JOSHUA ROTHKOPF