The Girl in the Spider’s Web Review: Foy’s great performance is stuck in a web of typical action story beats.
Taking on material in the Millennium series that isn’t by the original author, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a solid new entry for the series that feels more like a soft reboot than anything. It replaces most of the cast and takes on more of an action movie feel with some solid moments of horror thanks to director Fede Alvarez.
This entry sees Lisbeth Sander, this time played by Claire Foy, trying to confront her past as a new job to steal nuclear plans has everyone trying to hunt her down. The plot, as a whole, is pretty straightforward and it doesn’t rely too heavily on the past films or books so those going in not knowing anything about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or any of the other films won’t feel lost. Frankly, this worked great for me considering that I never had anything to compare it to and took it in with a fresh mindset.
Even with this mindset, though, the story still came off as typical and predictable. There felt like a lack of care put into the film and its big look into Sander’s past felt incredibly underwhelming and pointless. Thankfully, the cast seems like they aren’t too aware of it as they all put in some solid performances. This is especially true for Foy as she brings a tough and intelligent demeanor to Lisbeth that resonates well with the film’s more action oriented moments. She is almost like a superhero and the film definitely tries to capture her in this light with both hardcore action scenes and heroine acts of saving those in need.
Lakieth Stanfield, who is easily one of the best up and coming actors, also puts in a great performance as American NSA agent Ed Needham. Stanfield brings some great humor and energy to each scene that he’s in as he hunts down Sander.
There is also a great sense of style that undoubtedly comes from the direction of Fede Alvarez, who is mostly known for horror films like the 2013 Evil Dead remake and Don’t Breathe. The Girl in the Spider’s Web has some truly horrifying moments that captured perfectly with Alvarez’s help. Seeing someone suffocate in a skin-tight suit, tortured, and some of the physical repercussions of what the “Spiders” do is truly scary and clearly came from the mind of Alvarez.
The film also has some solid action moments that are pretty memorable and some fight sequences that will get your heart pounding. High speed car chases and tough fight scenes help break-up some of the drama happening with Sander’s past.
As a whole, The Girl in the Spider’s Web works as a pretty solid action-thriller that matches a new direction for the series in a similar way that I assume the new book series did. It’s something that mostly works for new viewers and is probably something that could upset fans of the other films, but Foy as Sander and Alvarez’s style surely save it from being totally pointless. It’s surely not the most impactful film for the series, but on its own it’s surely worth a watch.