The Girl in the Spider's Web (3 stars)

The Girl in the Spider's Web

Claire Foy takes over the role of hacking vigilante Lisbeth Salander in this adaptation of the fourth book in the Dragon Tattoo crime series

Lisbeth Salander, she of the dragon tattoo, is back. A strange mix of reboot and sequel, The Girl in the Spider's Web is based on the fourth book in the crime series, the first to be written by David Lagercrantz who took over from late creator Stieg Larsson. Following Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, British actress Claire Foy now takes over as the bisexual hacker Salander.

Arriving in the director's seat is Uruguayan Fede Alvarez, who has already brought a pulpy quality to his Evil Dead remake and the excellent Don't Breathe. He brings a similar perverse and lurid quality to this Salander adventure, which sees her reunite with investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), a relentless truth-seeker like Salander.

Adapted by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, Spider's Web cherry-picks Lagercrantz's story threads — not entirely successfully. The plot revolves around a computer boffin (Stephen Merchant), who recruits Salander to hack a software program that accesses nuclear codes; one he designed that's now in the clutches of the NSA. This in turn brings Lakeith Stanfield's techie out to Sweden to redress the breach.

More interesting is the arrival of Salander's unhinged sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks), who wants revenge on her sister for fleeing home and leaving her in the clutches of their horrendous father when they were young. Hoeks looks striking dressed in red with bleached blonde hair, and brings some menace, although this sibling rivalry doesn't boast enough tension to truly hit home.

While Foy makes for an impressive Salander, a seemingly apt heroine in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandals, Gudnason feels a little too clean cut (and young) to play Blomkvist. True, Alvarez's twisted sensibility plays well – Lisbeth near-suffocated in a latex bag is particularly arresting – but too often, Spider's Web shoots for surface thrills and swerves psychological depth.

General release from Weds 21 Nov

The Girl in the Spider's Web

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • UK / Germany / Sweden / Canada / USA
  • 1h 57min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Fede Álvarez
  • Cast: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, LaKeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant
  • UK release: 21 November 2018

Lisbeth Salander returns, recruited by a computer boffin (Merchant) to hack a program that accesses nuclear codes, but then her sister (Hoeks) shows up wanting revenge on her for fleeing home. Foy is impressive but it goes for surface thrills rather than psychological depth.