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The Girl in the Spider's Web review - Claire Foy leathers up | reviews, news & interviews

The Girl in the Spider's Web review - Claire Foy leathers up

The Girl in the Spider's Web review - Claire Foy leathers up

From Lilibet to Lisbeth, the star of The Crown plays the queen of Nordic noir

Thug and geek: Claire Foy in 'The Girl in the Spider's Web'

The enthronement of Claire Foy has been quite a spectacle. Perhaps some of Her Majesty’s mystique has rubbed off, as she is now entering that territory known to few young actors, where you’ll happily pay to see her in anything. Should that policy extend to her newest incarnation?

In The Girl in the Spider’s Web Foy becomes the latest actress to give her Lisbeth Salander, the super-damaged Swedish gender-neutral vigilante boffin. First off it was Noomi Rapace, then Rooney Mara. Now Foy wears the tats, the piercings, the leathers and the semi-shorn side-crop and steps astride a throbbing gazillion-horsepower motorbike. The ice-blue irises are the actress’s own, a steely contribution to Lisbeth’s implacable look. And for the scanty bits and pieces of dialogue (this Lisbeth’s not chatty), she essays an arch Scandi lilt. It’s a serviceable impersonation of an all-action ballbreaker, even if she doesn’t quite convince as a running, jumping, clambering athlete. But what of the plot?

There being no more Millennium novels by Stieg Larsson to work with, this adapts the sequence continuation by David Lagercrantz. Lisbeth is up to her usual japery, stringing up violent misogynists by the ankles and redistributing the ill-gotten contents of their bank accounts. Then she’s commissioned to retrieve a defence system which has fallen into the hands of the National Security Agency in DC. The designer, played with one of his very straightest faces by Stephen Merchant, regrets inventing it and wants it back. Once Lisbeth has stolen it, the NSA also wants it back, in the person of sharp-shooting tourist Lakeith Stanfield (Ed Needham). So do the peacenik Swedes personified by the chilly police chief Gabrielle Grann (Synnøve Macody Lund).Sylvia Hoeks in The Girl in the Spider's WebPlus some other nasty critters are also eager to get their mitts on it. Who are these freelance rascals? A clue nestles in the short gloomy opening backflash, in which young Lisbeth, leaping audaciously to safety, escapes the clutches of her predatory father, leaving her young blonde sister Camilla behind. Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks, pictured above) grows up to be a psychopathic blonde lady in red stilettos at the head of a maiming posse of lunks and goons.

Cue much rampant Nordic plottiness and whizzing mayhem in and around Stockholm. Weirdly, halfway through a car chase there is suddenly snow on the roads. It's all shot by director Fede Álvarez through a frosty monochromatic filter. The monochrome has seeped into the characterisation of all and sundry. Claes Bang, so nuanced in The Square, and Vicky Krieps, mesmerising in Phantom Thread, get by on the thinnest gruel.

As for Lisbeth, she is a rare combination of thug and geek, who can amply thwack and cattle-prod but also crack through airport’s firewall with a nifty clickety-click. Despite having a female fuck buddy, a soft spot for old journo buddy Mikail Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) and the whole sibling problem, there's almost no hinterland for Foy to work with. Some affecting last-minute tears are not enough to spring this Lisbeth from the cryo-chamber.

@JasperRees

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