I’ve been a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy ever since and I’m currently re-reading it, since I had forgotten about several aspects of the intricate story. It’s immensely thrilling and it has aged pretty well. While looking for the trilogy for my Kindle on Amazon, I noticed that two new books had been released, that aren’t based on any existing manuscripts left by Stieg Larsson after his death in 2004.
Since his family gained control over his heritage, his partner, who didn’t get any of his estate because they never married, kept the unpublished, original manuscript for a 4th story about Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. The family then hired swedish author David Lagercrantz to write completely new stories based Larsson’s characters and sold the rights to the first new story that was published in 2015 to Sony Pictures.
So, what makes a good Millennium trilogy movie? For starters: Staying true to the characters of the original source material. Keeping it at a certain realism, meaning that action scenes are grounded and fights seem doable by relatively normal people. A focus on a story that Blomkvist is pursuing for Millennium. A focus on organized crime in Sweden. There’s at least some nod to feminism involved.
The people involved with this movie must have asked themselves instead: What makes a James Bond movie? Of course there’s high speed action followed by lots of explosions. A familiar sounding soundtrack. An artsy animated intro theme video. At least one expensive sports car. A protagonist who can’t be killed who can get themselves out of any situation. A charismatic villain with visions of grandeur followed by an insane henchman commanding a small private army.
The Girl In The Spider’s Web focuses on Lisbeth Salander, even though she doesn’t behave like her, while keeping Mikael Blomkvist as a bystander who doesn’t really do much. Lisbeth is portrayed more of a superhuman, all-knowing mix of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt and his pair of computer hackers, who in her free time also finds enjoyment in torturing men who hurt women.
She can control any computer system, sometimes even from her mobile phone. She rides a Ducati over an iced lake as if it was her morning commute. She survives an attack by a crew of professionally trained Russian operatives without much trouble. She has contingencies for the contingencies, just in case. There’s no scenario where one might think that she’s actually in trouble right now. She hacks NSA systems without using any anonymization. She also no longer works on a Macbook Pro (sure, this is a Sony production after all). Her estranged sister Camilla is suddenly a villainous lunatic wanting control of the world’s nuclear arsenals. It’s just completely bonkers. It’s so terrible, it isn’t even entertaining.
I haven’t read the new novels and I’m not sure if I want to, because the summary from Wikipedia doesn’t resonate with me, but the movie’s screenplay seems to diverge from the original story more often than necessary, making the story seem even more over the top and convoluted.
I’d be lying if I said that I had high expectations of The Girl In The Spider’s Web, but I also didn’t expect it to be this disastrous. I’ll keep my hopes up, that the author’s family and his wife will come to some agreement in a couple of years to publish the final story these characters deserve.