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Mission: Salander Franchise - A Review of 'The Girl In The Spider’s Web'

The intention of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a New Dragon Tattoo story is quite obvious, and that’s to resurrect the film trajectory of Lisbeth Salander, and have this film kickstart a new film franchise—drive all the millions who bought the books to head to their nearest cineplex. Oh, if only it were that easy; as the road to mediocrity is often filled with the best of intentions.


For those who have followed Salander since she was first introduced in the novels written by the late Stieg Larsson, this may be something of a welcome move, as the David Fincher movie didn’t quite capture the texture of Larsson’s novel—the made for Swedish TV series were more faithful. But be forewarned that The Girl In The Spider’s Web is based on David Lagercrantz’s novel(s) that basically exhumed Salander after Larsson’s untimely demise.



Hacker. Protector. Vigilante. Claire Foy is Lisbeth Salander in #GirlintheSpidersWeb, now playing. ??

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And for those same die hard Salander fans, she was all about complexity, about being a walking contradiction: hacker, rape victim, avenging angel, bi-sexual lover, action heroine, and more. There was also Mikael Blomkvist, investigative journalist, who would act as our guide to Lisbeth’s dark, complicated world. He was himself a deeply textured creation of Larsson’s; at times, just as enmeshed in life’s speed bumps, and twists and turns. So part of the magic was how these two would interact and work together against all odds.


Under the direction of Fede Alvarez, whose 2016's Don’t Breathe (the one about three friends trying to burgle, but then trapped in a blind man’s house) was brilliant, we now have the ever popular Claire Foy portraying Salander. And the film still has the Salander dark edges, but clearly wants to turn her into a counterculture female James Bond or Jason Bourne. And Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) has been reduced to a mere accessory, an afterthought who seems content to be a mere observer from the sidelines. 



The muted cinematography is visually arresting, everything in grays, and if you can believe it, dark whites. Bleached of most color, the film is bleak winter come to life. And it’s this one-dimensional action heroine characterization that carries the film. Those darker edges which made Lisbeth such an intriguing character are still there, but only hinted at or mentioned in passing and we don’t really go down that road to understand her better.

So it’s almost like, if you didn’t read the books, you may actually like this film, and cheer on Salander as a kick-ass different kind of action heroine. You’ll find her unique, a fresh gust of toxic hacker wizardry coupled with a pain threshold that’s out of this world. But if like me, you read all of Larsson’s novels and even grudgingly welcomed the Lagercrantz’ extensions, you’ll find the screenplay for this film should have retitled the film as "The Shadow of the Girl in the Spider’s Web."


Screengrab from The Girl In The Spider's Web official trailer