Thrills! Chills! Vacuum bags!
BQB here with a review of “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”
Off the bat, I’m going to address some of the criticism I’ve been reading about this movie. The reviewers have been saying this is a cheap reboot, a makeover in the age of superhero movies, turning the great Lisbeth Salander from a deep character to a cookie cutter heroine that can be mass produced for endless sequels.
Balderdash, I say. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Stieg Larrson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series about a young goth punk chick hacker and bitter middle aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist who team up together to fight crime in Sweden was all the rage.
Alas, for whatever reason, no American sequels were made immediately after 2011’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (featuring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara). The original Swedish films starring Noomi Rapace live on, chronicling the entire three book series and I found them enjoyable and in some ways, better than the American version as they were more authentically Swedish (obviously) though they lacked the big budget explosions and effects that Hollywood can provide.
Back to the critics, I think they misunderstood the film. Salander’s character isn’t dumbed down into a superhero. Far from it. Unlike every time there’s a new Batman movie and some Hollywood suit insists that half the film be spent on watching young Bruce Wayne’s parents get gunned down on the way home from the theater for the 1,000th time, this movie is an immediate continuation of the 2011 film, just with new actors.
In other words, the audience isn’t treated as a bunch of dummies. Salander’s whole history isn’t rehashed, her relationship with Blomvquist isn’t explained, you, the viewer are expected to already know the past before you walked in, either from seeing the first film or reading the books or at least having heard something about the series before. At any rate, Superman flicks might need to keep showing that space pod crash down on the Kents’ Iowa farm for the millionth time and Spiderman movies will always show young Peter sad that he didn’t stop Uncle Ben’s killer, but here, you are trusted to not be a dummy who already forgot the first film.
Claire Foy is great in the role. Blomvquist, on the other hand, is given a total makeover and turned into a young studmuffin (Sverrir Gudnason), thus proving my point that Hollywood has reached a point where it will never again portray anyone over 40 as being either useful or good or productive or admirable in any way, shape or form.
Salander has hit her stride in this film. After the buildup in the original, Lisbeth has perfected her ability to use her hacking skills to be the avenging angel of battered and abused women all across the Nordic lands. Meanwhile, Blomvquist must decide whether to put his career above or below his friendship with the hacker.
Critics have complained that Salander is supposed to be a feminist hero but alas she’s been turned into some kind of male tough guy action star and I think they miss the point here. Salander isn’t just a feminist hero but also, a realist hero. Sure, she makes doors open, cars crash and causes all sorts of mayhem with the push of a cell phone button, and that is a super power as unlikely as the Flash’s speed, but whenever her hacking skills won’t save the day, she improvises by doing what mere mortals in her situation might do, i.e. stick a gun in a bad guy’s face or zipping away on her motorcycle and side swiping a cop car in the process because, no human, man or woman, is perfect.
Perhaps the gild is off the lilly for this series in some respects. Something can only be new and fresh for so long before it becomes old and comfortable and familiar. In its heyday, this series was considered quite original. But at any rate, I think fans will be pleased that the film stays true (for the most part except Mikael isn’t a bitter, washed up old man anymore) to the source material.
Plot? Salander is hired to steal a program that would give its user complete control over all nuclear missiles in the world. She’s hired by the program’s inventor, who regrets ever making it and feels it should be in the hands of no one. Alas, “the spiders” i.e. a criminal organization run by the family she escaped from steal it from her and she’ll have to enter a world she thought she left behind in order to get it back.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Critics are dumb.