Stieg Larsson’s novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and David Fincher’s worthwhile adaptation of it), was a clever locked-room murder mystery where the locked room was, in fact, an island. It introduced Lizbeth Salander, a socially awkward hacker with a violent, vengeful streak. The character became a sensation, with additional novels focusing on her more and more (even after Larsson’s death), including The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which is now a film directed by Fede Alvarez.
Salander (Claire Foy) is enlisted by a computer genius (Stephen Merchant) who created a program giving governments online access to nuclear weapons. Merchant is afraid it could be abused or fall into the wrong hands (what could possibly go wrong with such technology?), so he wants it destroyed. Salander steals it, but things quickly go wrong, and her long-lost sister (Sylvia Hoeks) is involved.
With every book (and film) after The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Salander seems less and less like a human being and more like a fantasy-avenging angel figure. There was always that element to her character, but the original book and film’s plotting covered up for it. Now, she just seems like an unstoppable force. This could be forgivable if the action scenes were thrilling or the plotting kept you guessing or if the villain was charismatic. However, there’s never much doubt to the villain’s identity and the film doesn’t develop that character enough for the finale to have the emotional resonance it clearly hopes to have. The action scenes are simply ho-hum. There’s a satisfying comeuppance for the villain’s chief henchman (Claes Bang) at the end, but that’s about it.
There’s nothing wrong with Foy’s performance as Salander. She’s just stranded in a nothing story.