Film review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web feels terribly predictable

Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl in the Spider's Web. Picture: PA PHOTO/CTMG INC/REI

Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl in the Spider's Web. Picture: PA PHOTO/CTMG INC/REINER BAJO

Having delivered an impressive remake of The Evil Dead and one of 2016’s most intense films with Don’t Breathe, Fede Álvarez would seem an ideal choice to helm the second instalment in the American-produced millennium series.

While he effectively maintains the chilly atmospherics of the original Swedish trilogy and David Fincher’s remake, his feature sadly pales in comparison to those films.

Adapted from the fourth novel of the series (the first written after original author Stieg Larsson’s death) the film sees hacker vigilante Lisbeth Slander (Claire Foy), pursued by unwelcome ghosts from her past when she tries to retrieve a dangerous computer programme which is stolen from her.

Disappointingly for a series seemingly defined by its willingness to take unexpected turns into disturbing and compelling territory, Álvarez decides to play it tame, conveying the film’s darkest elements, such as Lisbeth’s abusive childhood, through cliché-ridden flashbacks.

We are given glimpses of the gruesome depths the previous films have gone to – a character’s hidden disfigurement is deeply unsettling - but that is what they are, glimpses.

Instead the director focuses on the action as he thrusts his protagonist into a series of punishing fight sequences and standoffs between Claes Bang’s Bondian hitman as she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving criminal organization The Spiders.

While these sequences are thrilling the whole thing can’t help but feel terribly predictable.

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The propulsive action is grounded by Foy, whose finely nuanced turn is the heart of this tense but formulaic crime thriller.