Tattoo removal might be needed (The Girl in The Spiders Web review)

Based on the hugely successful Swedish thriller novels, ‘The Girl in The Spiders Web’ is the latest adaptation of Lisbeth Salander’s adventures. The first in the series, ‘The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo’, opened in 2011 and was directed by David Fincher. A stunningly powerful piece, it set a towering bar that unfortunately is not met by this by-the-numbers action thriller.

Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, is a computer hacker. Known as “the girl who hurts men who hurt women”, she seeks revenge on males who mistreat women. She began life with little back story, though this film attempts to add more in. However, justifying her actions with a personal motive actually ruined the character slightly. She was an ambiguous, bi-curious and mysterious woman with an utterly unique appearance. This film turned her into more of your casual action superhero, though it did manage to maintain some of the strong feminist message behind it.

What made Fincher’s film so great was the brutal intensity of the action. There were scenes of (for the sake of weak stomached readers) non-consenting sexual activities from several different entry points, and themes of pedophilia, incest and torture-porn. These were not remotely fun or enjoyable to watch, but my god did they create a fantastically intense and addictive viewing experience.

This new film is unfortunately much more of your typical action thriller film. Salander’s character is majorly toned down, both in appearance and in attitude. She still has an intensity, but it isn’t the psychopathic nature that her character had when portrayed by Rooney Mara. Though Claire Foy is fantastic in the role (and FINALLY gets something to do after standing and crying for the duration of ‘First Man), it feels like she’s playing a different character to the one we read in the books.

The action is fine, and is still more intense than a lot of Hollywood’s efforts. Staple Guns sealing bullet wounds, unexpected bloody ends and several bathroom fights inject a needed excitement and brutality to the narrative, but none of these were as graphic or as painful to watch as Fincher’s original.

HOWEVER, one major saving grace of this film is the incredible camera-work and cinematography. The production design and cinematography works beautifully together as they create stark contrasting images. Blood on snow, black leather on flames, these powerful images make for a wonderfully stylish film. Equally, the camerawork in this film is sublime. During one scene when Salander is drugged, the camera goes 90 degrees off its axis to demonstrate her discombobulation. Many scenes are shot in one take, showing her intricate level to detail when hacking, while others are shot fast and hand held to represent plans falling apart.

Overall, ‘The Girl in The Spiders Web’ is a perfectly functional, if mildly forgettable, thriller. Stylish in its execution, but ultimately lacking in the brutality and intensity the source material deserves, it might be worth you seek out the original film rather than spending your money on this sub-par reboot.

7 Stars

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