The Girl in the Spider’s Web, with Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield and Stephan Merchant. Directed by Fed Alvarez. 4/5
The Girl in the Spider’s Web brings back the characters and plot threads from the wildly popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series of books.
In Stockholm, Sweden, vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is hired by computer programmer Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) to retrieve Firefall, a program capable of accessing the world’s nuclear codes that he developed for the US National Security Agency, as Balder believes it is too dangerous to exist.
Lisbeth successfully retrieves Firefall from the NSA’s servers, attracting the attention of agent Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), but is unable to unlock it. Unaware that she was being observed, Lisbeth is attacked in her warehouse sanctuary by mysterious thugs who steal her laptop where the program was downloaded. She narrowly escapes being killed.
In an attempt to find her laptop Lisbeth contacts her friend and former lover, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), who hasn’t heard from her in two years. Blomkvist learns that one of the thugs who attacked her was Jan Holtser (Claes Bang), who previously worked for Lisbeth’s late father, a crime lord, and is now affiliated with an elusive international crime syndicate known as “The Spiders”.
Meanwhile, Needham has also travelled to Sweden to recover Firefall and runs afoul of the Swedish security agency, who have their own interest in the powerful computer program.
Lisbeth attempts to alert Balder about The Spiders but is intercepted by Holtser, who kills Balder and kidnaps Balder’s son August, a savant who knows how to access Firefall.
Following a deadly pursuit, Lisbeth manages to rescue the boy but is confronted with a haunting figure from the past. She keeps August in a safe house, minded by Blomkvist, but The Spiders find them and the tables are again turned.
Lisbeth is jarringly reunited with her twin sister Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks), who has taken up the mantle of their evil father. The two sisters are literally pitted against each other as light and darkness – mirroring the chess games they played as children.
It reaches a climax as Needham joins forces with Lisbeth and her allies, and they risk an assault on the old Salander family home, a forbidding grey monolith that reeks of evil.
The imagery and action are quite remarkable, evoking scenes from Frank Miller’s Sin City.
Altogether an intriguing story with brilliant acting.
BY NTOMBENTSHA MSUTU and JON HOUZET