Before I do anything, my heart and thoughts go out to the victims and their friends and families of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, California: Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, Cody Coffman (22), Alaina Housley (18), Sean Adler, Noel Sparks (21), Kristina Morisette (19), Telemachus “Tel” Orfanos (27), Justin Meek (23), Jake Dunham, Blake Dingman, Daniel Manrique (33), you will all be missed, but never forgotten. I’ve only been to Borderline a few times, but I do have my memories. I knew a lot of people who frequent that place multiple times a week, and I had a friend who knew the shooter, painting him in a very different light than what we’ve seen on the news. To make matters worse, the Woolsey Fire is spreading like crazy. Though I’m no Catholic or Christian, I pray for the safety of the firefighters and a quick end to the fire, as well as for everyone in the vicinity of the fire and their safety.
Now, onward with my review.
I won’t lie, I’ve never seen the other movies that this movie succeeds. Er, well, I saw the Swedish original of DRAGON TATTOO, but none of the sequels or the David Fincher remake. I had planned to watch them to catch myself up on the franchise by watching those movies, but plans changed around here for me, and I’m scrambling just to watch the Harry Potter movies. Anyway, point is, I never read the novels, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into going in with this one.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Claire Foy (FIRST MAN  and LADY IN THE VAN ), Christopher Convery (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming BY DAWN ), Sylvia Hoeks (BLADE RUNNER 2049 , and the upcoming ALL THE DEVIL’S MEN ), and Sverrir Gudnason (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming THE BOOK OF VISION ).
In support, we have Lakeith Stanfield (SORRY TO BOTHER YOU , GET OUT , MILES AHEAD , STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON , and upcoming films SOMEONE GREAT  and KNIVES OUT ), Stephen Merchant (FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY , SHERLOCK GNOMES , LOGAN , and upcoming films THE ARK AND THE AARDVARK ), and Vicky Krieps (PHANTOM THREAD , and the upcoming BERGMAN ISLAND ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Fede Alvarez, known for DON’T BREATHE (2016), and the upcoming DON’T BREATHE 2 (2019). Co-writing the screenplay, we have Jay Basu (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming CHARLIE’S ANGELS ) and Steven Knight (ALLIED , PAWN SACRIFICE , and upcoming films SERENITY ). One of the executive producers is David Fincher, known for LORDS OF DOGTOWN (2005). Composing the score is Roque Baños, known for THE MIRACLE SEASON (2018), RISEN (2016), IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015), and the upcoming MIAMOR PERDIDO (2018). The cinematographer is Pedro Luque, known for DON’T BREATHE, and the upcoming JACOB’S LADDER (2019). Finally, the editor is Tatiana S. Riegel, known for GRINGO (2018) and I, TONYA (2017).
Already saw the movie, so let’s get on with it.
This is my honest opinion of: THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB
Infamous computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) has been recruited by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant), a former NSA employee who designed Firefall, a program that can access nuclear missiles. He wants it to be taken from the NSA to be destroyed. Lisbeth succeeds, catching the attention of NSA operative Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), who ventures out to Sweden to find her. However, plans change drastically for Lisbeth when an assassin attempts to kill her and steals Firefall from her. She attempts to confront Balder, but discovers that he had nothing to do with the attempt on her life and that same assassin kills him, and even attempts to kidnap his young genius son, August (Christopher Convery). She recovers him from the assassin, but discovers who he works for. Lisbeth’s long-lost sister, Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks).
Aaaaand it’s not very good. I wager this is worst addition to the series. Not that I have a good reference point to work with, but the ratings and reviews seem to point in that direction.
The major problem that I have with the story is that very little given proper development. All of the more interesting ideas and relationships aren’t delved into very well. For example, I enjoy the connection that Lisbeth has with August, but they only share a couple of scenes. This is a shame because I doubt Lisbeth liking children has really been tackled before. Actually, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the two characters are playing chess. It was established pretty early on that Lisbeth is a chess wiz and the two play while talking about the situation (or whatever it was they were talking about) and then August gets up, seemingly pausing the game, which Lisbeth comments on. Turns out, he won and she didn’t even know it. The look on her face, admittedly, was pretty humorous. But the real crime of the story is the horrible lack of chemistry between Lisbeth and Camilla. I mean, these two are long-lost sisters with unresolved issues and they’re barely addressed until the end of the movie, which only lasts about five minutes, making it fairly anticlimactic. What seems to be a set up for an emotional powerhouse of lingering anger, hurt feelings, guilt, and remorse toward each other is sadly an emotional wasteland. The acting is fine for what the two actresses are given, and give a little credit to the writing that it’s not bad on paper, but their characters get so little screen time that the emotional impact that the movie is clearly going for isn’t justified. Both Foy and Hoeks deserved better, despite both giving a hundred percent.
I wouldn’t even mind the story being a standard run-of-the-mill spy thriller with the threat of nuclear war if we had interesting characters to follow. As I said before, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Foy’s acting, as she does have her moments of both bad-assery and subtle comedy. But Lisbeth should be a lot more interesting than this. She’s a runaway with daddy and sister issues… I feel like this cliché has been done. But never mind that, this is a character whose sole job is to find privileged white guys who hurt women who don’t deserve it. Hell, the opening sequence, which is basically just the first minute of the trailer, is quite satisfyingly brutal. So what’s a chick like this doing getting caught up in a terrorist plot? I can’t claim to know what the other movies were like, so maybe this is exactly within her wheel-house, but I’m going to make a random assumption and say that this plot is most definitely not in her wheel-house. Either way, hacking the NSA doesn’t seem like something she’d be mixed up in when her focus is basically being a vigilante against violent perverts.
Even Lakeith Stanfield’s character, Edwin Needham, feels pretty useless until the climax. All he does it retread locations that we’ve already been to and getting fucked with by Lisbeth, which admittedly lead to a pretty funny scene. Still, it feels like it’s fluff. The same is said about Mikael (Sverrir Gudnason), who feels like fluff as well and to remind the audience that he was in the movies before. Also, quick question, isn’t Mikael supposed to be much older than Gudnason? Michael Nyqvist was much older than Noomi Rapace… I think. Oh well, to hell with continuity, I guess.
If I were to change anything, the plot would be that Balder recruits Lisbeth to track down the person who stole Firefall, which isn’t her, and Lisbeth finds out it was Camilla. A rivalry would be established much earlier on between the two characters, but Lisbeth would call in help, as this terrorist shit is way above her know-how. But, she’s constantly with the characters who do the heavier-lifting, still helping in key moments when appropriate.
The truth is, if this movie was the kind of movie that didn’t take itself so seriously, and was nothing but some of the more ridiculous moments (I’m looking at you, “motorcycle on cracking frozen lake” scene), then I might have had a better time, or if the characters were better written. But as it stands, it’s pretty meh. Nothing really sets itself apart from other similar thrillers, or action films, and really falls short of it’s better aspects. I can’t say that it’s an awful film, or really all that bad, but it’s also not that interesting, nor is it as good as it could be. As a recommendation, I might say pass. Save it for a rental, and even then, you’re not missing much. Viewer beware. That’s the best that I can say.
My honest rating for THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB: 3/5
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