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Todd Herman

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‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is one of the worst films of the year

This film really does indicate that directors matters, stars matters, and you can’t just plug in a franchise and assume it’s going to go well. The first film with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig — who was very important to that movie — kind of worked even though it had a ridiculous plot and it was impossible to follow.

But the characters were so vivid and interesting–here, no one is back from the first film. With director Fede Álvarez, you’ve got a Uruguayan director, a largely Swedish cast with actors who look like they’re capable of much better work, and a plot that is beyond unintelligible.

Someone who hasn’t seen the first film at all will be completely flummoxed. The reason the film doesn’t get one star or zero stars — I will graciously anoint the film with 1.5 stars (out of four) — is because it has some well-choreographed action scenes.

There’s one scene in particular where the main character — Lisbeth Salander, here played by Claire Foy — sort of takes her motorcycle and leaps into what looks like a bay, and you think, “Oh my goodness, she’s going to go underwater.” But it’s Sweden and it’s the wintertime, so it’s frozen, and there’s a pretty impressive shot of some stunt-rider riding across the ice.

That shot works well. Nothing else in the movie does.

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By the way, the emphasis on sadism is sickening, it’s obscene, it’s disgusting, it’s stomach churning. Claire Foy — who’s a fine actress that played the wife of Neil Armstrong in the new “First Man”, and of course was in “The Crown” — she’s a wonderful actress and she deserves better roles than this. This is so sad because virtually in every scene, something incredibly cruel is done to her. She gets sliced, she gets stabbed, she gets injected with drugs, she gets bashed in the face.

When I was seeing the film, I was thinking this is like a Marvel film based on a comic book, but it’s not based on a comic book, it’s based on a dark, twisted Swedish novel. The level of tasing and stabbing and wounding and gassing and head-bashing and cutting… it’s just fetishistic.

The level of cruelty to the main character is different from the first film. If someone sees this film and wants to write to me and explain to me what happened, they can. Even some of the individual chase and combat sequences are incoherent, and that’s one of the problems here.

In any event, 1.5 stars for what could be in contention as one of the worst films of the year. There’s a lot of competition, but for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” — people shouldn’t fall into this web at all.

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