REVIEW: The Girl in the Spider’s Web
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is exactly what its trailers make it out be: 2 hours of mediocre espionage, a handful of clever visual ideas, and a compelling Claire Foy performance.
The film follows Swedish hacktivist Lisbeth Salander as she unravels a mystery involving her estranged sister who’s also a crime boss (spoiler alert it’s HER web). There’s a wiz kid who can decode prime factorials at savant super speed, a secret US computer program that can activate every nuclear arsenal on the planet, and a british scientist who dooms us all.
I wish I was making this up.
Despite stealing half its plot from the Big Book O’ Super Spy Tropes the movie’s narrative is fairly tight. It steadily puts along like the car your friend had back in high school: reliably getting where it needs to go without much fanfare or grace. The camerawork is similar, providing a few cool gems, but never fully leaning into its more creative edges. I found myself rooting for the movie to be better than it was…and then it was over.
As I mentioned before, Claire Foy is sensational in this flick. A brooding but compassionate l33t mohawk martial artist is NOT an easy role to sell but Lisbeth Salander seems weirdly lived in because of Foy’s attention to detail and natural charisma. Each time she grunted while moving a dead body or slumped into a chair I lost myself more and more into the fantasy. I hope she gets better thriller roles in the future, because although you might not expect it, she definitely has the same hero quality of a Sigourney Weaver or Jodie Foster. Foy plays excellently with the supporting cast too; Lakeith Stanfield, Steve Merchant, and Cameron Britton are all way too talented to be side characters in a movie this mediocre.
In a lot of ways the tone reminds me of those 00s shaky cam thrillers. There’s a real focus on building theme and world but it never explores the potential of what it brings up. The melodrama is there, the bad guy beatings are up to snuff, but it refuses to actually compel you. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in any of what was going on.
P.S. Lisbeth sounds a lot like Lilibeth and as an avid fan of The Crown this was very surreal for me.