Posted Nov 29 2018

The Girl In The Spider's Web - This Dragon Tattoo Movie Pretty Much Rocks

Dir: Fede Alvarez

Starring Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium-world gets a new take in which what was basically his alter ego, Mikael Blomkvist is marginalised and his most intriguing creation, Lisbeth Salander, gets her third cinematic incarnation and, in a weird way, borders on becoming something of a superspy-slash-superhero.

And, as convoluted as that sounds, it more or less works. And the main reason for that is – very simply – the brilliant Claire Foy, who here is never less than commanding as Salander. And often much more than that.

Based on a novel contrived after Larsson’s passing to keep the whole Girl With The Dragon Tattoo thing going, this takes things in a new direction. Lisbeth – she who hurts men who hurt women (whilst also hacking the world) – now gets more of a backstory (abusive father and abused sister to the fore) which works surprisingly well for a character who was previously fairly inscrutable – again, chalk that up to Foy’s interpretation.

There’s a plot that involves Stephen Merchant – suitably convincing whilst still being fairly Bristolian – and some super computer Maguffin that feels like it would be at home way back in Tango & Cash. But it doesn’t matter (it is, after all, merely a Maguffin.)

Alvarez is more than adept at atmospherically capturing the snowbound Stockholm locales and has a strong feel for making his action sequences original and building tension – trust a horror director! One scene where Lisbeth rescues a  kidnapped child by hacking a car rewrites the rule book on what we should expect from a car chase to perfection. And he keeps those inventive moments coming right up to the film’s climax.

It lacks the almost claustrophobic regional tone of the original Swedish film trilogy, but actually improves on Fincher’s remake of the first novel from a few years back. Again, largely due to the purity of Foy’s performance, which moves from being richly nuanced to unexpectedly open. All of which is saying a lot, given that she is following in the boot-steps of both Rapace and Mara.

It is by no means a great film - but the fourth book in a trilogy, written by a different author, is never going to be. But it is a solid enough film. And very entertaining to boot. Tats or no tats.


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