The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on November 12, 2018 @

Any time quality is replaced by schlock, it's depressing. In 2018, schlock often rules.

The Girl in the Spider's Web is a prime example of that. What has happened to Lisbeth Salander and her unique, challenging personality?

Lisbeth Salander is the creation of Swedish journalist and author Stieg Larsson. He wrote the Millennium Trilogy - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50 of a sudden heart attack. All three novels were published posthumously to great international acclaim and a passionate readership.

They were all made into Swedish films, although only the first film was equal to the stature of the novel. The director Niels Arden Oplev made the film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into a work of cinematic art.

The two subsequent films, which were not directed by Oplev, did not achieve the quality of their predecessor. They lacked its potency, depth, and artistry.

But what was a consistent value was that the same two actors played in all three films. Noomi Rapace was Lisbeth, and Michael Nyquist portrayed journalist Mikael Blomkvist. They created a bond and a compelling chemistry.

In 2011 David Fincher directed an American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was a stylish return to quality. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig as Blomkvist regenerated chemistry.

The schlock was yet to come.

Because Stieg Larsson died with his will not witnessed, and he and Eva Gabrielson - his female partner of 30 years who lived with him at the time of his death - were not married, she got nothing. Everything went to his brother and father, whom he had little to do with. Stieg had lived for nine years with his grandparents. Supposedly a reason he and Eva had not married was in Sweden it is necessary to make your address public, which Stieg thought left him open to even more threats than he received.

If Eva had gotten the rights to intellectual property of Steig Larsson, she probably would have protected his integrity. His family inheritors did not.

They allowed another writer David Lagercrantz to write a novel with Stieg Larsson's characters titled, The Girl in the Spider's Web. Stieg's brother Joakim said, "David writes books for people who normally don't read books."

Integrity anyone?

Stieg Larsson was an artistic creator usurped by a pretentious craftsman.

Now we have a film made of David Lagercrantz's vain concoction.

The Girl in the Spider's Web is poor imitation of Stieg Larsson's potency and vision.

Larsson's work is about character. The Girl in the Spider's Web is an action film. Directed by Fede Alvarez - from a script by three writers - it's an amalgam of effects and implausible circumstances. Lisbeth is hired by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) a former NSA agent to pilfer a doomsday computer program, to save the world. She becomes the target of nefarious forces who steal the program and try to kill her. An American agent (Lakeith Stanfield) winds up in Stockholm seeking the program. And her twisted sister (Sylvia Hoeks) also is on the scene. Oh, boy.

The Lagercrantz/Alverez version of the perils of Lisbeth has none of the intelligence or credibility of Stieg Larsson.

It also lacks the binding force of the relationship of Mikael and Lisbeth. This Mikael is played by Sverrir Gudnason, who drains the character of any believability. And with him, there goes the chemistry.

I fell in love with both Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara as the inestimable Lisbeth Salander. They captured her complexity and edginess. Most of all they embodied her mercurial humanity.

I don't care about Claire Foy. She tries. But like Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, she can't transcend the generic mess around her. With a new haircut, the queen has become a page boy. She's also an ersatz superhero, which is totally contrary to Larsson's vision. She's an éclair filled with custard, not cream.

Stephen Merchant should have called his friend Ricky Gervais for help.

The Girl in the Spider's Web is a tattered, stapled copy.

Stieg Larsson was the real thing.

© 2000-2020 Tony Macklin