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Movie Review

Lisbeth Salander is nobody’s fool.

Cloaked in black from head to toe, she is a mysterious and powerful force to behold. And what she lacks in stature, she makes up for with lightning-fast reflexes and unparalleled hacking skills. So coveted is her skill set that important people go to great lengths to seek her out.

People like computer scientist Frans Balder. A genius, Balder has created a missile-encryption system that is potentially lethal in the hands of anyone other than himself. Originally conjured for research alone, Balder’s system has made its way to America. Now he wants it back. So he hires Lisbeth Salander to hack into the National Security Agency and return to him the deadly program he's now bent on destroying.

But when Lisbeth hacks the NSA, she triggers a series of events that puts Balder and his autistic son, August, in grave danger. And now, the Americans aren't the only ones who want access to Balder's nuclear creation. A lethal group known as The Spiders is also after Frans’ missile-encryption technology. And its murky members will kill anyone who stands in their way.

What began as a seemingly effortless job for Lisbeth suddenly turns into a life-or-death struggle, one in which she must rescue those she loves before she's permanently entangled by the nefarious webbing of her own shadowy past.

Positive Elements

Lisbeth Salander often uses her considerable skills to help others (though what she does is, generally, illegal). She is quite the Robin Hood figure, returning money to those who deserve it and using her hacking abilities to save lives.

Similarly, Lisbeth has a passion for saving women who are being, or have been, abused. (This, however, often pushes her into violent vigilante territory, as we'll see.) She fearlessly plunges into life-threatening situations to rescue her friends, and to defend the helpless and innocent. She also goes to great lengths to protect a young child for whom she feels responsible.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist wants to help Lisbeth; he knows about her troubled past and believes in her capacity for good. He often puts himself in dangerous situations to aid her as well.

Spiritual Content

A man refers to his life's work as “the sum of all my sins.”

Sexual Content

From a distance, we see a fully naked woman (front and back). A woman’s bare backside is shown while she showers. Another bath scene shows that part of a female's anatomy as well. Some bare back and side breast are visible when one character lifts her shirt. Similarly, a woman wears a dress partially revealing her lower half.

A couple of scenes picture two female lovers together, once in bed as well as wearing T-shirts and underwear (presumably after having sex). They talk about potential sexual experiences with others. Women dance with one another in a club, make out and wear revealing outfits.

Mikael Blomkvist and married editor Erika Berger share multiple intimate embraces. Erika wears a robe revealing cleavage and underwear, and it’s insinuated that they have sex.

A woman confesses that her father sexually abused her for 16 years. A brief, disturbing scene shows the father beckon his young daughter to join him on a bed.

A woman wears a shirt with a message that crudely alludes to oral sex; other conversations include references to sex as well. A brief video shows a naked man having sex with his friends’ naked wife. A picture shows a man and woman together, partially naked. An airport security agent opens up a suitcase filled with sex toys.

Violent Content

Lisbeth is known as a dangerous woman, accused of aggravated assault and infamous for her violent past. And she's not at all afraid to dispense vigilante justice—including torture and death—to those who've abused others.

A woman lies on the floor, blood covering her face and legs, after she's been viciously beaten by her husband. Lisbeth arrives on her behalf like an avenging angel, suspending her abuser from the air for attacking his wife and for previously abusing two prostitutes (we see pictures of their injured faces). Lisbeth electrocutes his genitals (through his pants) with a Taser-like device, and he soils himself afterward.

A group of criminals (controlled by a powerful, manipulative woman who learned her evil ways from her father) breaks into a woman’s home, shoots her in the back and blows up her house. Other buildings and cars explode as well.

Multiple men get shot (in the head and other areas) and killed. Blood covers walls, floors and bodies. Men and women are electrocuted (with men's genitals being tortured that way repeatedly) and hit in the head. A man is stabbed in the leg with a broken toothbrush and another man falls and snaps his leg. A woman is nearly killed when the room she’s in fills with toxic gasses. Later, she's placed in a vacuum-sealed bag and nearly suffocated. A woman gets shot in the stomach and jumps off a cliff to her death. Someone's gunshot wound is stapled shut.

A victim is stabbed with a needle and blood pours from her neck. Someone asks to be shot and killed rather than being tortured. A man takes off his mask, revealing the aftermath of a brutal, torturous encounter where his nose and upper lip were cut off. He bears a carved scar on his forehead as well.

Airbags deploy in a car, knocking two men out. A car hits an icy bank and flips multiple times, killing the driver and seriously injuring the passenger. A young boy is kidnapped and threatened by criminals.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is heard about 15 times and the s-word twice. There are three uses of “b--ch” and one use of “d--n.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

A woman gets injected with an incapacitating agent. To stave off its effects, she crushes and snorts amphetamines.

People drink hard liquor, take shots and imbibe wine. A man uses alcohol to try to soothe a woman he has physically abused. Men and women smoke cigarettes. One character takes multiple unnamed pills.

Other Negative Elements

Lisbeth is a genius hacker who illegally breaks into any computer system she desires. Sometimes her illicit digital invasions have lasting ramifications (though the adverse consequences of her actions don’t seem to bother her much).

Government officials act irrationally and betray their own countrymen to further their personal pursuits; they also create and distribute harmful programs. One character vomits multiple times.

Conclusion

“The past is like a black hole. … If you get too close it might pull you in ... and you’ll disappear.”

That's what young August, son of Frans Balder, tells Lisbeth Salander. And even though he was talking about Lisbeth's own past, he inadvertently sums up the plot of this movie as well.

Based loosely on the fourth book of the Dragon Tattoo series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web devolves into a jumbled mess. Over the course of two hours, it tries to make sense of multiple complex character backgrounds, but mostly fails to do so as it races at top speed toward its breathless conclusion.

Not only does some of the original story (written by David Lagercrantz 11 years after the death of Dragon Tattoo creator Stieg Larsson) get twisted here, but what we see is awfully twisted, too. The movie wants us to cheer Lisbeth's take-no-prisoners approach to dishing out her brutal brand of personal justice, for instance.

But there's precious little to cheer in this vigilante franchise actioner. It explodes with content issues, from explicit sexual imagery to raw violence to harsh profanity. The Girl in the Spider's Web may not be quite as content-laden as its extremely graphic predecessor, 2011's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But don't be fooled: The nasty web this sequel weaves is still sticky with R-rated problems.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander; Sylvia Hoeks as Camilla Salander; Lakeith Stanfield as Edwin Needham; Stephen Merchant as Frans Balder; Cameron Britton as Plague; Vicky Krieps as Erika Berger; Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist; Andreja Pejic as Maria; Christopher Convery as August Balder

Director

Fede Alvarez ( )

Distributor

Columbia Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 9, 2018

On Video

February 5, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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