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"THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB: A NEW DRAGON TATTOO STORY"
(2018) (Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: A young vigilante must contend with various people coming after her following her hacking-based theft of a top-secret military program.
PLOT:
Lisbeth Salander (CLAIRE FOY) is a young computer hacker who moonlights as a vigilante dispensing justice against men who've wronged women, likely stemming from her tumultuous upbringing alongside her sister, Camilla (SYLVIA HOEKS), at the hands of their abusive father. She ends up contacted by computer programmer Frans Balder (STEPHEN MERCHANT) who wants her to steal a top-secret military program he sold to the U.S. government and now wants back because of its potential to be misused. She manages to do so, even as NSA agent Edwin Needham (LAKEITH STANFIELD) discovers her hack and unsuccessfully tries to shut it down before the files are gone.

While Edwin is showing up in Stockholm and then being arrested by Swedish intelligence director Gabriella Grane (SYNNOVE MACODY LUND) who doesn't want foreign government operatives working in her country, Lisbeth survives an attack where her laptop with the program is stolen. She then turns to journalist Mikael Blomkvist (SVERRIR GUDNASON) -- with whom she's had a past relationship - to identify those responsible, all while she seeks out Frans, only to unintentionally end up in custody of his young son, August (CHRISTOPHER CONVERY).

From that point on, and with the help of fellow hacker Plague (CAMERON BRITTON), Lisbeth tries to figure out who's stolen the program, learn what their intentions are, and then stop them.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
It's been said that the human brain is fairly remarkable in terms of how it processes data and whether it opts to store or delete that from active memory. Some of that's an obvious survival mechanism when it comes to trauma so that one can attempt to continue onward despite what's happened (which is why people often don't remember such events, just what led up to them, followed up from some point after the situation was over). The rest can probably be attributed to not wanting or needing to fill up valuable storage space with memories of things that are unremarkable and thus not necessary for daily or future operations.

I have a feeling my brain works that way when it comes to movies. When I was younger, I could quote lines of dialogue verbatim and explain entire plots in detail, much like my younger cohorts do nowadays. But unless it's simply a matter of getting old, I think my brain purposefully purges info now, in a related sort of survival technique.

Since I note so many details in my reviews, I have a feeling things just get automatically deleted in order to save space. And that's especially true if any given film is unremarkable, unnecessarily convoluted with no related decent payoff, or if the material is grim or depressing.

All of which likely explains why I can barely remember anything about "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." While it's been seven years and a thousand or more additional movies since I last saw it, I think the material hit my brain's trifecta of the above qualifying purge parameters. Unlike others including many of my fellow critics and even the Oscars that awarded it with five nominations, I was only marginally impressed and thus it's now pretty much a big blank space in my head.

Thus, while watching the sort-of-a-sequel, sort-of-a-reboot follow-up, "The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story" (which is way too unnecessarily long of a title in my humble opinion), I was trying to figure out if and how it tied back into that earlier film (which itself was an American update of the previous Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel).

Well, it turns out it barely is, what with all involved opting not to follow through with the original intentions of filming the next two works in the "Millennium" series and instead jumping to installment number four, penned by David Lagercrantz in 2015 (what with Larsson having died before the original was published in 2005).

And with that change of plans and the passing of time, lead stars Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, along with director David Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian all moved on. The result, at least to yours truly, ends up pretty much like the original, somewhat too convoluted for its own good, not terribly remarkable, and grim like its predecessor. In fact, and despite having just seen it this week, I had to go back and look through my notes just to jog my memory about what occurs over the new film's nearly two-hour runtime.

The film -- helmed by Fede Alvarez from a script he co-wrote with Steven Knight and Jay Basu -- begins with a flashback featuring two sisters who seemingly have a sexually abusive father, a trauma -- accompanied by her fleeing at a young age -- that's stuck with our heroine, Lisbeth (Claire Foy taking over for Mara), into her adult years. Accordingly, she dispenses vigilante justice against men who abuse women, in the following sequence, a wife-beating philanderer. Once that's out of the way, such comeuppance takes a back seat, however, to the main plot where she's contacted by a computer programmer (Stephen Merchant) to steal back a program he sold to the U.S. government.

NSA Agent Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield) isn't happy when that happens before his eyes and fingers, while Swedish intel head Gabriella Grane (Synnove Macody Lund) isn't pleased to have him on her soil on official business. It's not long after Lisbeth has the program that bad guys show up and try to kill her, first will bullets and then by blowing up her apartment.

Having set up surveillance cameras, she seeks out the help of Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason, replacing Craig), but unlike in the first film this character is essentially relegated to minor supporting status. Lisbeth is in for a surprise when she finds out who's behind all of this, all while finding herself in the custody of the programmer's kid (Christopher Convery). And then the bullets start flying in some effective if occasionally far-fetched action sequences (especially one featuring a building scan and some long-distance, wall-penetrating sniper shooting).

What's present is fine, I guess, if you're into these sorts of grim films, but they're just not my cup of tea. Or something my brain wants to hold onto for future memories or reference. And for that, "TGITSWANDTS" rates as just a 5 out of 10.




Reviewed November 5, 2018 / Posted November 9, 2018


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