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GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.

Review by Louise Keller:
A gloriously dark score and appropriately matched production design offer this new Lisbeth Salander thriller every chance to recreate the mood of Stieg Larsson's Millenium series (2009) and David Fincher's remake (2011). Fede Alarez's film (based on David Lagercrantz' novel) fires in its delivery of a tense and moody experience, but relies too heavily on high tech and big explosions. Yes, I know Salander is a skilled computer hacker, but everything seems a little bit too easy and there is not enough at risk. The story's dark psychological heart plays second fiddle to the action - to the film's detriment. Current It Girl, Claire Foy, complete with pudding bowl haircut, tattoos and silver body piercings, effectively takes over from Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace as the victim turned vigilante. She certainly displays her credentials. I was engrossed and seduced by the darkness portrayed but was never completely satisfied.

The plot concerning nuclear defense systems, a Russian crime ring and Salander's dark past is slightly muddled in its telling and the core involvement of her older sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks, excellent) never has the emotional ballast intended. Similarly, Swedish star Sverrir Gudnason is never given the opportunity to shine as Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist obsessed by Salander's story. The slight Swedish accents are nicely incorporated I like the way his personal relationship and Salander's lesbian encounters are subtly handled.

Beginning with a game of chess, the opening sequence in which Salander's abusive relationship with her father is revealed, effectively sets the film on its course. It comes as somewhat of a disappointment that the development of this core issue falls flat in what should be the climactic scene set in the remote, visually rich wintry location. It is there that the contrast of black and red on the white snowy backdrop is at its showy best. Salander is replete in black leather; Hoeks, striking in red.

There are a few interesting plot twists and surprises, but all in all the film plays by the numbers as it entices us into its twisted, dark world.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This new 'girl with the dragon tattoo' story well demonstrates the differences between Hollywood (or big budget commercial) filmmaking and European work: it ups the stakes to global threat level. It isn't enough to have a network of rich businessmen exploiting women, say, the villains have to have world domination as their game. The result is a somewhat deflated drama, strangely enough, since our investment in character is so thin.

Apart from a couple of minor continuity fibs, the filmmakers do a solid job of emulating a Hollywood thriller, down to the scrambled hand held camera work - which sometimes fails to provide clear information. Claire Foy shows her ability and range as Lisbeth, but I find the character's enforced coldness too distancing for the good of the film - a softened Lisbeth for the ending notwithstanding. Audiences like to warm to their heroes.

But then the film is more concerned with complex action and fight scenes, reducing both Lisbeth and her sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks) almost to cardboard representations. As for poor young Sverrir Gudnason playing journalist Mikael Blomkvist - the co-star of the original books and films - his participation is rather restricted. But the even younger Christopher Convery makes up for it as the pre-teen August Balder, son of an IT genius who gave the world a global satellite control system for weapons (the world domination device to which I refer) and now regrets it.

Pardon the cynicism, but the film has clearly ticked the PC identity boxes, with Lisbeth and two other female characters being lesbians, two black characters and a couple of men portrayed as sexual abusers. Full house.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, THE (MA15+)
(UK/Germany/Sweden/Canada/USA, 2018)

CAST: Claire Foy, Beau Gadsdon, Sverrir Gudnasson, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Carlotta von Falkenhayn, Stephen Mrchant, Christopher Convery, Claes Bang

PRODUCER: Eli Bush, Elizabeth Cantillon, Scott Rudin, Amy Pascal, Soren Staermose, Ole Sondberg

DIRECTOR: Fede Alarez

SCRIPT: Jay Basu, Fede Alvarez, Steven Knight (novel by David Lagercrantz, characters by Stieg Larsson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pedro Luque

EDITOR: Tatiana S. Riegel

MUSIC: Roque Banos

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eve Stewart

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2018







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