The Girl in the Spider’s Web: B-
Rated R, 117 minutes
The serviceable, reasonably exciting new thriller “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” based on the “The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo” novel of the same name by David Lagercrantz with characters made famous by Stieg Larsson, lacks the complexity of its predecessor, the 2011 hit “The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo” with Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara then inhabiting the role of super tough hacker Lisbeth Salander, as “The Crown’s” Emmy-winner Claire Foy takes on the role in this soft-reboot sequel. Even with that, “Spider’s Web,” peppered with some overly obvious symbolism, is far from dull yet divisive for those wanting to know who played Salander better, Mara or Foy? (More on that in a bit.) Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason of last year’s “Borg vs McEnroe”) find themselves caught in a web of spies, cyber criminals and corrupt government officials, including Lisbeth’s estranged and psychotic twin sister Camilla (“Blade Runner 2049's” Sylvia Hoeks). “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is an enjoyable, easily accessible entry in the “Dragon Tattoo” series created by Larsson that’s exciting but not as dark, violent or complex as the 2011 version or the 3 Swedish films made with Noomi Rapace playing Salander that followed Larsson original 3 books. The American versions have a different feel to them though “Spider’s Web” has a distinctly overseas, European sheen to it. “Spider’s Web” is directed by “Don’t Breathe’s” Fede Alvarez, with a script co-written by Alvarez, Steven Knight and Jay Basu. "Spider's Web" gives the character of Blomkvist much less to do here, allowing Foy to nicely shoulder much of the action-packed scenes throughout, well-supported by Hoeks as the evil sister, LaKeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”) as an American NSA agent on Salander’s trail, and in a small role, Stephen Merchant as a computer genius responsible for creating the evil program that could destroy the world. The script doesn’t fully explore the complexities of the good vs. evil sister relationship (or maybe it’s bad vs. really bad sister) except some very apparent symbolism and dichotomy of red dress (bad) and snow (good overcoming evil). However, Alavarez deftly handles the action set pieces, including a tense climax set in a big, deserted house. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” could’ve been better, but also could’ve been far worse. Thankfully, it has Foy in a strong turn as Salander, which honestly is a fool-proof role that’ll likely make any actress seem pretty tough. Foy is a leaner and more accessible Salander, while Mara the darker, moodier Salander. Pick your poison, but for now I’m going with Foy, who can play the Queen or a computer hacker with equal strength.