At Brunswick Moviebowl with Séan Coyle
Dir. Fede Alvarez
Starring – Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Merchant
It has been seven years since the release of David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the film being the first American remake of the hugely successful Swedish film, part of a trilogy, based on the even more popular Millennium series of books by the late crime writer Stieg Larsson. Fincher’s piece followed hacker, come vigilante, Lisbeth Salander (one of the most iconic characters of modern crime writing) who investigates the disappearance of a woman 40 years prior. The film was well received and it seemed a new US trilogy was a given, but a peculiar thing happened, nothing. Surprisingly there was no talk of a sequel, with Fincher and lead star Rooney Mara eventually exiting the franchise, leaving film and book fans miffed.
This week’s release The Girl in the Spider’s Web finally sees the franchise up and running again, however with a new director and a new Lisbeth (Foy). Fired from the National Security Agency, Frans Balder (Merchant) recruits Lisbeth to steal a computer program that can access nuclear codes, the download soon draws the attention of the criminal underworld, local police and NSA Agent Alona Casales (Stanfield). This week’s release is a strange one, it works fine as a basic action thriller, giving us enough excitement and intrigue to see out the two hour run time, but considering the source material it feels too generic. The most interesting thing about previous installments was the focus on Lisbeth, and her troubled past, with her fight against the evil men do to women making her an instant icon, but this aspect, is mostly ignored here. Instead this incarnation seems more concerned with the action, and there is nothing wrong with that in a thriller, but the action here isn’t that memorable and it dilutes the importance of the character. The plot is also very formulaic, having been done countless times before, and you quickly realise this film could easily exist without the need to attach these well known characters to it, it is telling this is the first installment not based on a book by Larsson.
Foy makes a good fit as Lisbeth, nailing the intensity and icy demeanor, so it’s a pity that the script isn’t built around her, instead she feels like a passenger in her own film. Blomquist (Gudnason), usually the co lead in the series, is also relegated to bit part player with very few scenes, another shame as his and Lisbeth’s relationship is one of the strongest parts of the series.
After such a long wait for a sequel many will be disappointed by this latest installment, there is enough there to keep us watching, but instead of a Millennium film, it feels derivative, ticking the boxes for a standard thriller. The lack of focus on our protagonist is also a big let down, her fight against cruelty to women being notably more hushed this time, even more surprising considering the times we are living in.