“So you’re a cop?” inquires a character midway through the film. As if on cue, comes the prompt reply, “No, worse – I’m a journalist.” One was left wondering whether the film was a case of investigative journalism…
Based on the characters in the Millennium book series (this one being the fourth) by the late Stieg Larsson, which in turn was adapted from the novel by David Lagercrantz, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is a sequel to the 2011 ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’. Here, the dragon-tattooed protagonist, Lisbeth Salander (played by Claire Foy), is a top grade computer hacker. That she’s also a champion of women’s rights – coming to the aid of ladies in distress – helps the film in the action quotient.
The film opens with a backstory – young Lisbeth’s sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoes) vanishes because of their abusive father, and largely due to Lisbeth’s non-support. Twenty years later, Lisbeth is hired by Balder (Stephen Merchant) to retrieve Firefall – a computer programme he had devised which can access the world’s nuclear code – as he feels it could play havoc if fallen into the wrong hands. But it already has. Salander has to fight the Swedish government, an American NSA security expert (Lakeith Stanfield) and the gang, known just as ‘Spiders’. Helping her is Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), her ex-boyfriend and journalist. Stanfield too comes on board later.
With her deadpan looks and action sequences, it’s Foy’s film all the way. The other actors’ characters are barely fleshed out. The snowy Swedish locales, where most of the film has been shot and the actors sourced from, is a redeeming factor. But the dark tones make even the outdoors look as if shot indoors – one can blame it on the Scandinavian climate. With the nuclear backdrop and a child in distress, shades of ‘Mercury Rising’ (1998) abound through the film. One expected more from Alvarez after his brilliant handling of the 2016 thriller ‘Don’t Breathe’. But a weak script bogs down the film.