Film review: The Girl In The Spider's Web a slickly executed if convoluted thriller

Lakeith Stanfield, Claire Foy and Sverrir Gudnason in The Girl In The Spider's Web
Damon Smith

ALMOST a decade after Noomi Rapace originated the role of emotionally damaged hacker Lisbeth Salander, English actress Claire Foy becomes the third actress to wage war on abusive men as Swedish author Stieg Larsson's avenging angel.

It's a far cry from the elegance and pageantry of her award-winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and Foy embraces the physicality of the eye-catching role.

Unfortunately, this incarnation of Lisbeth lacks the emotional complexity of earlier instalments including David Fincher's redundant American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo starring Rooney Mara.

The tormented heroine has been reduced to a two-dimensional action hero, who screeches around Stockholm on her motorcycle like Batgirl and weathers a flurry of body blows and bullets with a grimace.

Adapted from the fourth book in the Millennium series, which was penned by David Lagercrantz after Larsson's death, The Girl In The Spider's Web is a convoluted conspiracy thriller, which forces Lisbeth to confront ghosts of her past as she uses her hi-tech expertise to avert nuclear armageddon.

The slender plot takes a couple of predictable narrative detours while Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez struggles to recapture the heart-stopping tension of his 2016 home invasion horror, Don't Breathe.

Computer scientist Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) hires Lisbeth to gain illegal access to the servers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and steal his FireFall application.

Lisbeth's actions attract the attention of NSA agent Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), who travels to Sweden to retrieve the stolen software and bring the hacker to justice.

The theft is complicated when masked assailants storm Lisbeth's hi-tech lair and leave her for dead.

The battered and bruised heroine reluctantly re-establishes contact with tenacious journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), whose interest in Lisbeth continues to frustrate his publisher, Erika Berger (Vicky Krieps).

Mikael exploits personal connections to Gabriella Grane (Synnove Macody Lund), deputy director of Swedish National Security (SAPO), to identify the attackers. He uncovers a connection to Lisbeth's estranged sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).

"I bet you can't wait to write a story about this ... about me, my psycho family," Lisbeth snaps at Mikael.

She follows a trail of evidence and realises that the brilliant mind of Balder's autistic son August (Christopher Convery) is the key to cracking the case.

The Girl In The Spider's Web is a slickly executed thriller-by-numbers, which resuscitates the franchise with a whimper rather than a bang, notwithstanding the pyrotechnics of a frenetic final showdown.

Foy adopts a solid Swedish accent and looks suitably brooding with tattoos, body piercings and motorcycle leathers but the script scrimps on meaty psychological detail.

Gudnason is a handsome if bland sidekick while Hoeks fails to thaw out her chief antagonist.

Wrap up warm because Alvarez's picture will leave you cold.

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB (15, 115 mins) Thriller/Action/Romance. Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Vicky Krieps, Synnove Macody Lund, Claes Bang, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Convery. Director: Fede Alvarez

RATING: 5/10

Released: November 21 (UK & Ireland)

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