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'The Girl in the Spider's Web' Review

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November 15, 2018
Hunter Friesen
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After watching The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the only thing I could think about is how badly this film tried to be like James Bond. There’s the dark protagonist that uses questionable methods to serve justice, the villain that wants to control the world, and the underdeveloped love interest that always gets in the way. Spider’s Web even has an opening title sequence that serves no purpose other than to make you think you’re watching a James Bond film. One could say that the only thing that the 007 films have that this film doesn’t have is a sense of quality, which in the end makes Spider’s Web a pale imitation of its far superior predecessors.

Spider’s Web is directed by Fede Alvarez, who previously proved himself with the horror thriller Don’t Breathe. Unfortunately, he brings none of those thrills to this film as it ends up being a boring slog. Alvarez really tries to make this a hard-action flick, which totally goes against the source material. Lisbeth is treated here as a heroine who is able to fight off five guys at a time when really she’s a tortured anti-hero that uses her genius skills to be ahead of her enemies. 

Alvarez also relies heavily on action set pieces in order to mask the overall drabness of the story. Unsurprisingly, the set pieces are just as drab as everything else. The car chases and stunt work are by the numbers and hard to watch as the editing jumps around at a frenetic pace. 

Going along with the theme of unoriginality is the writing. The main MacGuffin plot follows Salander as she goes around Sweden tracking down a laptop containing a program that can control the world’s supply of nuclear weapons. The plot feels more in line with a cheesy 80s Schwarzenegger flick rather than a modern thriller. It also goes against the hard grounded tone that the film tries to convey. Lisbeth deals with her inner demons in one scene and in the next she is trying to stop a nuclear holocaust. It’s a crazy shift that rips the film of any tension and believability. 

Filling the boring world is some equally bland characters. Many don’t have a name or are so basic that you’ll forget their name immediately after hearing it. The writers try to make each one cool by giving them super skills like fighting or hacking, but they forgot to give them personalities. Each one feels more like an object to move the plot forward rather than an actual human with feelings.

The one good thing that can be said is Claire Foy as she fearlessly dives into the role of Lisbeth Salander. Her accent is on point and she brings a good amount of grit to the character. It’s a shame that she is wasted with such lousy material. 

The rest of the supporting cast fails to make an impact and feels cut and pasted out of any typical action movie. Lakeith Stanfield plays Edwin, an NSA agent who hunts down Salander in a game of cat and mouse. Stanfield has done much better work than this and just seems to not really care, and really, who can blame him? Sylvia Hoeks plays the archetypal villain that wants to hold the world hostage. She tries to give her character an edge by being playful and menacing, but it backfires and ends up making her laughably bad. 

Lastly, Christopher Convery plays August, a kid that gets trapped in all this mess. Now he’s only just starting out his early career, but Convery was terrible in the role. His painful delivery ruined about every scene he was in (which is a lot) and immediately crushed any hopes of sympathy for his character.

Just like its frozen tundra setting, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is cold and lifeless. Save for Claire Foy, everything in the film ends up being a cheap knockoff of other generic action thrillers.  Instead of watching a film that wants to be James Bond, just watch a James Bond film, because at least those are pretty good.

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