A Brief History
On November 7, 2018, movie fans in the United States have only 2 more days to wait for the next movie in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cinematic series, this time The Girl in the Spider’s Web. The first film landed an Oscar (Academy Award) for Best Film Editing and other nominations for Academy Awards and was well received by critics and audiences. This time around, we have a new star in the title role and a different director (Fede Álvarez), but not to worry, in our estimation this new film based on the Millennium novel series by Swedish author Stieg Larsson and continued by David Lagercrantz is even better than Dragon Tattoo. This new film features relentless action, shooting, stabbing, fighting, explosions and nifty gadgets. Action-Adventure fans take note! (As always, we do not reveal spoilers, so do not be afraid to read on.)
The title character is Lisbeth Salander, ably played by Claire Foy (First Man, Unsane, Breathe, The Lady in the Van), taking over the role from the acclaimed performance by Rooney Mara. Lisbeth is a tomboyish waif of a girl that is deadly serious in the Punisher sort of way, with a simmering, nonchalant sort of indifferent sexuality. If you are the sort that enjoys films such as the Punisher movies, Taken, Daredevil, Elektra, Mission Impossible, and are a fan of strong, fierce women (think Elektra, Salt, Lara Croft, or Carrie on cable television’s Homeland) you will love this movie. If you like the Mission Impossible electronics and gadgets, the wizardry of television’s MacGyver, the action and computer manipulation of television’s 24, clever safe houses and high tech spy gear, then this movie is for YOU! This time around we get the backstory of Lisbeth and her motivation for becoming a consummate hacker and electronics magician while somehow learning the skills to become a super-ultra bad-ass woman on a mission.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web takes the title character through her life on the fringes of society, darting in and out as needed to accomplish her mercenary and altruistic missions. We find out early on how she got to be the way she is, and her troubled family life. The plot takes her into serious international intrigue as the computer control system of nuclear weapons is hacked and stolen and in danger of falling into the “wrong” hands. Although set in Sweden, the US gets into the action when fired NSA (National Security Agency) computer analyst Frans Balder (played by Stephen Merchant) who created the computer program in the first place travels to Sweden in a desperate attempt to prevent enemies of peace from getting his nuclear weapons program. (No explanation is given for how a computer nerd, former hacker at that, has developed super-spy James Bond type skills and mastery of weapons and spy craft. The real NSA is not some sort of Special Forces/CIA mash-up, but movies insist on trying to make us believe just that.)
The film lasts a breathless 115 minutes and never drags as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sometimes did. The bad guys are unmistakably bad guys, the good guys are just as relentless in their efforts to win the game of nuclear keepaway. The police are suitably annoyed by their own inability to keep control of a chaotic situation happening under their noses. Filming is nice and clear, no fuzzy or murky stuff that sometimes drives us nuts. Special effects are excellent, as is the soundtrack. Action, intrigue, twists, novelty death, and a plethora of nifty weapons make the movie first rate eye candy.
If you are the type that does not easily suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a movie, then you may wonder how Lisbeth and her friends/allies managed to acquire what has to be hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of high tech equipment and gadgets. Who built the electronically controlled safe room doors? Are contractors that discrete? How does computer nerd Frans know how to use a variety of cutting edge weapons? For that matter, why does a small popcorn cost $7 at the theater? (But I digress….)
Seriously, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a terrific action-adventure movie and is our favorite film of 2018 so far. We would recommend discretion be exercised in whether or not you bring pre-teens to the film because of violence and gore. Striking us as inexplicable, the film has garnered only so-so ratings from other critics and even audiences. Our test audience liked the movie, but not as enthusiastically as some films we have seen. We on the other hand are wild about the movie, which is right up our proverbial alley. If you like the types of films we named above, you will certainly like this film as well. We eagerly awaited the chance to preview this movie and we were not in least disappointed. As stated earlier, the faster pace and far more action caused us to like the movie more than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was pretty good itself.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web has previously opened in Europe and is set to open across the US on November 9, 2018. See you there and see you at the inevitable follow on films of the franchise.
Questions for students: Did you ever read the novel The Girl in the Spider’s Web? Also, are you planning on seeing this movie?
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For more information, please see…
Lagercrantz, David. The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2015.
Larsson, Stieg. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Series). Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2011.
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