When Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) was a little girl, she lived with her father and sister in a Swedish mansion, isolated from the world. She was dimly aware of what was happening to her elder sibling, but it crystallised one day when she saw her father call them both to his bedroom, and she suddenly knew she had to get out of there. She did so in the most drastic manner: by jumping off a high balcony, down, down into the snow below, and running away, never going back and never rescuing her sister either. Now, years later, she makes her way in the world as a vigilante, using her expert ways with computer technology to bring abusers of women and children to book - with violence.
Although the first series of movies drawn from Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy had done very well, there was a problem, which was they were all in Swedish, and obviously it would be outrageous to suggest that anyone non-Swedish watch those with subtitles. I mean, come on! Therefore Hollywood bought the rights to the novels and set about adapting them in English, with the result they had a flop movie on their hands, the David Fincher-directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What possible course of action could they take now? How about a sequel - but not with anyone who might have enjoyed the Fincher version, and not one of the official trilogy for that matter.
So what you had here was an adaptation of the fourth book, which had been made up from notes left by Larsson before he passed away, supposedly to take the number of entries in his series to ten. Whether what he would have concocted would have been precisely what the new author, with his family's blessing, created was a moot point, but all those who read the book of The Girl in the Spider's Web were agreed this film was not what they wanted from the franchise, and once again by alienating the fans, the production found they had few others interested in watching a continuation of a story they had little interest in watching in the first place. Once again, the movie flopped.
Divorced from all that controversy, if indeed you could call it controversy, did this stand on its own two feet? Well, it did and it didn't: it did thanks to director Fede Alvarez turning the plot into an action flick, and you could tell those setpieces were where he was most engaged with the material, with some pretty decent sequences in that vein, including a particularly strong car chase culminating in a stand-off at a bridge. On the other hand, the conspiracy that Lisbeth was investigating was one of those movie contrivances where basically the bad guys could do anything they wanted with no consequences other than what our heroine brought to them, and though you might be able to believe computers were magic in the context of this, it was not very convincing even with the shadowy world depicted here.
Oddly, instead of following the page, this opted to remake Mercury Rising, the middling Bruce Willis vehicle from the nineties they evidently hoped nobody remembered - bad luck, on the internet there will always be someone who remembers everything. Therefore one of those cliché savant kids you got in that movie was the key to the computer program that can set off all the nuclear weapons on the planet (however that would work), and there's no way you can simply make a copy of this program either, thus rendering it imperative that both boy and laptop that contains it are nabbed by the good guys, who are Lisbeth and her near-superfluous confidante Michael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason). LaKeith Stanfield also showed up as an American spy, for as per action movies, Lisbeth was a woman who had to be kidnapped and saved by a man, which was what happened. Sylvia Hoeks played her grown-up sister, now a villain, leading one to conclude what this truly wanted to be was a superhero effort, so closely did it stick to that template. As it was, fair if you wanted a mindless thriller, but fans did not. Music by Roque Baños.
[The Sony Blu-ray has an audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes and the trailer as extras.]