Rebooting a good thing: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Having read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and seen the films, I had high hopes for the Hollywood remake which did not disappoint. With David Fincher at the helm, he cast Rooney Mara for the role of hacker Lisbeth Salander and Daniel Craig as journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, roles played by Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyquist, respectively, in the critically acclaimed Swedish film interpretation of the trilogy. Fincher’s reimagining of the film proved to be as gripping and as successful as the original. I would even say I enjoyed the Hollywood remake more than the original. Mara and Craig also made unlikely screen partners and bedfellows but proved to be rather irresistible. Also, Mara’s powerful performance as Salander proved to be a career high as she bagged an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Much to my dismay, the remainder of the Hollywood sequels was left in development until Fincher and Mara decided to abandon the project.

The Girl In The Spider’s Web is a reboot of sorts. With Fede Alvarez at the helm, this movie is a far departure from the Millennium trilogy and the Hollywood remake. Alvarez eschews the nuanced storytelling in favor of a high jinks movie that reminds me of the 007 and Mission Impossible franchise, sadly to mostly unsuccessful results.

Claire Foy bags the lead role of an older, stabler, Lisbeth Salander. Foy lacked the depth, anguish, rawness, and the “crazy in her eyes” that Mara lent to the role. Likewise, Sverrir Gudnason is laughably useless as Mikael Blomkvist. Unlike Craig, who somehow managed to put up a fight in the film, Gudnason serves as the Daniel in Distress for Foy’s rather lackluster Salander.

Salander is one of the most compelling characters I have ever seen and read. She is neither masculine nor feminine, neither hero nor victim, neither good or evil. She does not do small talk, she is wary and apprehensive of people with good reason. She looks like an gothic imp capable of slaying men twice her size. To say she’s a ” gender bender” or “androgynous” is an oversimplification of what I believe is one of the most complex characters in a book but I will say that she exists outside the familiar and clichéd binary classification which adds to her peculiar sex appeal.

Overall, I was left underwhelmed by this film. If they can create a sequel with the original Hollywood cast, retconning this reboot, I believe they will have a far greater chance in the box office and hopefully be as good as that of Fincher’s.

I give the film 3 out of 5 stars. G



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