The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Claire Foy Shows Her Versatility as Feminist Superhero in Reboot of Swedish Suspense Franchise
The late Stieg Larsson [1954-2004] is best remembered as the author of the Millennium trilogy of posthumously-published best sellers, all of which were eventually made into feature films (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fireand The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). His Swedish-language psychological thrillers revolved around a crime-fighting duo composed of veteran journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.
In 2015, David Lagercrantz wrote the fourth installment in the series, “That Which Does Not Kill Us,” which was lauded as a faithful extension of the famed franchise. That book has now been adapted to the big screen as The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
Directed by Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe), the film co-stars Claire Foy as Lisbeth and Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael. Foy, who won an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth on “The Crown.” And she’s recently been getting a lot of Oscar buzz for her critically-acclaimed portrayal of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s stoic wife, Janet, in First Man.
Here, the versatile thespian exhibits an impressive acting range in a demanding role where she plays a traumatized, incest survivor-turned-righteous vigilante. This incarnation of Lisbeth is not only a brainy, IT expert but a seemingly invincible heroine with an extraordinary set of fighting, driving and survival skills.
As the film unfolds, we find Lisbeth and her sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks) being molested by their father as youngsters. The former makes a daring escape from their snow-capped, mountaintop home, saving herself, but leaving her little sis behind to be violated by the monster for years.
Fast-forward to present-day Stockholm where vengeful Lisbeth is in the midst of unleashing a string of sadistic vigilante attacks against some of the city’s worst misogynists. However, the plot makes a sharp turn into world politics when she and sidekick Mikael are recruited to disable a dangerous computer program developed by America’s National Security Agency capable of sabotaging other countries’ nuclear defense systems.
What ensues is a grisly game of cat-and-mouse played by spies equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry. As the body count escalates, the relentless bloodletting is presented in such a stylized fashion that it’s never really upsetting until the humdinger of a reveal during the dramatic denouement.
Kudos to Claire Foy for oh so convincingly reimagining Lisbeth Salander as a cartoonish, feminist superhero on the order of Wonder Woman!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, profanity, sexuality and nudity
Running time: 117 minutes
Production Studio: MGM / Columbia Pictures / Pascal Pictures / Yellow Bird / Scott Rudin Productions / The Cantillon Company / Regency Enterprises
Studio: Columbia Pictures
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening Nov. 16, 2018
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PG-13 for action) Second installment in the Harry Potter prequel series revolves around an infamous evil wizard’s (Johnny Depp) attempt to breed a race of pure-blood witches and wizards to rule over all ordinary people. Cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Carmen Ejogo, Jude Law and Zoe Kravitz.
Instant Family (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, drug references and mature themes) Inspirational comedy recounting a couple’s (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) real-life adjustment to parenthood after adopting three siblings (Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz) simultaneously. With Octavia Spencer, Joan Cusack and Julie Hagerty.
Widows (R for violence, sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity) Adaptation of the British TV series of the same name about four gangsters’ wives (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo) who, after a botched bank heist, decide to follow in their late husbands’ felonious footsteps. Supporting cast includes Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Daniel Kaluuya. (In English and Spanish with subtitles.)
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
At Eternity’s Gate (PG-13 for mature themes) Willem Dafoe portrays Vincent Van Gogh in this biopic based on the legendary Dutch painter’s letters and on anecdotes about his life. With Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen and Rupert Friend. (In French and English with subtitles.)
Girl(Unrated) Transgender drama about a 15-year-old Belgian girl (Victor Polster), born in a boy’s body, who pursues her dream of becoming a ballerina. Cast includes Arieh Worthalter, Oliver Bodart and Magali Elali. (In French, Flemish and English with subtitles.)
Green Book (PG-13 for violence, mature themes, profanity, racial slurs, smoking and suggestive material) Unlikely-buddies dramedy, set in the Sixties, about the friendship forged between a black classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his white chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) driving around the Deep South during Jim Crow segregation. With Linda Cardellini, Don Stark and P.J. Byrne.
The Last Race (Unrated) Poignant portrait of octogenarian Barbara and Jim Cromarty’s struggle to keep the Riverhead Raceway afloat, the only surviving, stock car racetrack of 40 that once flourished on Long Island.
Of Fathers and Sons (Unrated) Eye-opening documentary shot by Syrian Talal Derki who lived with radical Islamists upon returning to his hometown of Homs. (In Arabic with subtitles.)
Team Khan (Unrated) Boxing documentary following former world champ Amir Khan on the comeback trail for two years as he trains with hopes of securing a title fight with undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Featuring footage of Lennox Lewis, Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. (In English and Urdu with subtitles.)
The World Beneath Your Feet (Unrated) New York City documentary chronicling peripatetic Matt Green’s 8,000-mile walk around every block in the Big Apple.