Star Rating:

The Girl in the Spider's Web

Director: Fede Alvarez

Actors: Sverrir Gudnason, Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Vicky Krieps

Release Date: Wednesday 21st November 2018

Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Thriller

Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is forced to face her past when her sister, Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks), resurfaces and attempts to steal a computer program that could grant its user control over the world's nuclear arsenal.

David Fincher's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's modern pulp novel was an entertaining mixture of action thrills and noirish investigating. Rooney Mara's performance formed the centrepiece of the movie, and her ability to exude an air of rage and vulnerability was compelling. Disappointing box office revenues meant that it was a one-and-done situation, until a soft reboot - a needless soft reboot, it must be said - was ordered.

What made Fincher's adaptation work, and Rooney Mara's performance shine, was how it embraced the schlock and made it its own. There was a sensibility to it, a certain acknowledgement of its own ridiculousness, that made it enjoyable. Sadly, that's all gone now and what's being served up now is just a bland rehash of Bourne and Bond with a female protagonist.

You can clearly see Claire Foy's agent selling 'The Girl In The Spider's Web' to her, arguing that she needed to shed the prim and proper image from Netflix's 'The Crown' and go for a straight action role. Instead, the action here is not only forgettable, but staged so clearly with the help of a stunt double that it negates its impact entirely. Moreover, Foy's performance is walled off that it's impossible to tell if she's scared, angry or merely just bored by it all. Whatever her intent is, it's lost in the costume black leather and a curiously flat accent.

The supporting cast aren't up to much either, as the utter tosh of a script written by Steven Knight lets them down entirely. 'Phantom Thread' breakout Vicky Krieps has all of maybe two scenes - both of which are pointless - and Lakeith Stanfield's reduced to traipsing after Foy's character and looking confused. Stephen Merchant, Claes Bang, Cameron Britton - all fine actors when given half a chance, but none of them get it here. Sylvia Hoeks, who was terrifying in 'Blade Runner 2049', is utterly squandered as the villain and really is the one truly let down.

Fede Alvarez's direction is uninspiring, unimaginative and kicks the story on from scene to scene without a shred of rhythm or balance. In a lot of ways, Alvarez has taken the bullet points from the previous versions - cold and grey Sweden, lots of computer screens and hacking, some weird sex stuff - and worked from that. There's none of the energy or the slick camera movement of Fincher, none of the integrity of the Swedish original, and nowhere near enough fun to stick with it to its banal and hopelessly obvious ending.