The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story
The Girl in the Spider's Web is easily the worst Dragon Tattoo installment yet, filled with uninspiring characters that follow a thin plot that feels like a rushed made-for-TV afterthought when compared to both Niels Arden Oplev and David Fincher's previous films. At this point, Claire Foy's Lisbeth Salander has lost all of her edge and personal turmoil that once made the character so unique.
Fede Alvarez‘s (Evil Dead) The Girl in the Spider’s Web carries a mouthful of a title, if you include the A New Dragon Tattoo Story subtitle that only reminds you that every film before it is infinitely better. As a solo film, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a sleep-inducing bore, resting most of its success on a performance by Claire Foy that isn’t bad, but feels 5+years too late, after both Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara managed to take the character to new heights.
Comparing The Girl in the Spider’s Web directly to other installments puts it firmly in last place. There’s something about Alvarez’s lifeless direction and assembly of B-movie performances that just don’t quite cut it for a film that Sony is essentially dumping in November.
Most of the marketing for the film has focused on the lack of backstory for hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) and her partner-in-crime Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason). In the film, the two feel like complete strangers with no real connection, yet the film tries to push their previous relationship (from other films). At least Daniel Craig and the late Michael Nyqvist had the ability to make the down and out journalist feel like a well-rounded character that has been beaten and left for dead, yet isn’t willing to give up just yet.
In this film, Blomkvist is simply a random journalist that is hinted at having a past with Lisbeth. He comes along for the ride and helps her through her cybercrime investigation as she is continuously hunted down and nearly killed, but there’s no real reason as to why, in terms of viewing this film as a solo outing.
None of the running time is spent furthering these characters or giving them any real motive or purpose. It expects you to already know their individual stories and to be okay with just climbing aboard and running forward.
This is probably the film’s biggest and most lazy sin. Fede Alvarez throws away most of his good graces brilliantly earned with Don’t Breathe and Evil Dead, both tense and effective horror movies that get by on awesome practical effects and well-written characters.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web suffers from poor writing and a lack of cinematic purpose. Why bother bringing this character back if you’re not interested in furthering her story past the point of giving Claire Foy a reason to cut her hair and dye it black? Did Sony think the Dragon Tattoo series alone was going to sell tickets and put butts in seats, despite Fincher’s under-rated remake under-performing at the box office?
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a new Dragon Tattoo story and hopefully the last on the big screen for a very long time or at least until they get a competent enough filmmaker back behind the lens. Alvarez was clearly the wrong choice for the film and should stick to directing horror films or original scripts, because the man has talents, just not in this realm or style of filmmaking.
Perhaps Lisbeth Salander should move to the small screen and become yet another impressive adult-oriented long-form drama? I’m all for movies, but the character needs more time and effort spent fleshing her out and getting to the heart of what once made her so engaging to watch and follow around.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is going to make you want to spend more time at the concessions stands, refilling your soda or adding one of the fifteen new popcorn seasonings to your bucket, because once you return to the movie, you will quickly realize that you have missed absolutely nothing and that there’s still probably another 25-30 mins left before the credits role and you can go back to your much more interesting life.