‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Host Claire Foy

After a brief Thanksgiving break, NBC’s Saturday Night Live returned last night with host Claire Foy, musical guest Anderson .Paak and Alec Baldwin back as Donald Trump, joined by Ben Stiller who reprised his Michael Cohen impersonation. The epis…

After a brief Thanksgiving break, NBC’s Saturday Night Live returned last night with host Claire Foy, musical guest Anderson .Paak and Alec Baldwin back as Donald Trump, joined by Ben Stiller who reprised his Michael Cohen impersonation. The episode averaged a 4.1 Live+same day household rating in the metered markets and a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating in the markets with local people meters. That was down from the most recent SNL original two weeks ago, which was hosted by…

‘SNL’ Netflix Ad Sends Claire Foy Back to High School in ‘Saved by the Crown’

Plus, a gritty reboot of “Family Matters” called “Officer Winslow.”

If you thought Netflix was producing more and more movies and TV shows out of the goodness of its corporate heart, think again. “Saturday Night Live” laid the truth bare with a commercial for the streaming giant starring Claire Foy, who hosted the festivities last night and happens to have starred in the first two seasons of “The Crown,” one of Netflix’s most acclaimed series. Avail yourself of it below.

“In 2019 we’ll have even more programming to choose from, because we’ve gone crazy,” intones a narrator who sounds a lot like Beck Bennett. “That’s right, we’re spending billions of dollars and making every show in the world. Our goal is the endless scroll: By the time you reach the bottom of our menu there’s new shows at the top, and thus the singularity will be achieved.”

“We’re even buying stuff from ourselves,” he says. “We love Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth so much we’re sending her back to high school.” We then see Foy looking distraught while leaning against her locker, where she delivers her catchphrase: “I’m in over my crown!”

Other offerings they highlight: “Kennymeade Depot,” which only one person watches, all the fake movies from “Entourage,” and a gritty “Family Matters” reboot called “Officer Winslow” in which the hard-drinking cop kicks Urkle out of his house by shooting his gun into the air and screaming, “Why did I do that!?”

The narrator ends with some advice: “It’ll take 12 human lifetimes to watch all of our content, so start watching now!”

‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: First-Timer Claire Foy Gets Safe but Solid Debut

The “First Man” star got to be silly with a wide variety of sketches and accents.

With Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” and Netflix’s “The Crown” under her belt (please note her lack of mention of the poorly-received “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” as it’s apparently a lost cause), Claire Foy is a natural pick for a first-time “Saturday Night Live” host. But of course, as this season has proven, “natural pick” doesn’t always ultimately mean good pick.

Just to be clear: It does mean “good pick” here.

Host: Claire Foy

Claire Foy’s monologue is pretty to the point, and it shows quite a bit of confidence they don’t make her go with the audience Q&A or musical monologue to kick things off. Instead, she makes a solid Brexit joke (with a comparison to current United States politics), segueing into her “I’m only taking the jobs that Americans don’t want.” (an okay joke that’s made better with the Ryan Gosling-based punchline).

The girl power finish to the monologue is the only thing that doesn’t quite land — yay, more women, but it’s not as though this episode reflects that point. In fact, the “Morning Joe” sketch with Melissa Villaseñor as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — arguably someone who would be included in the “yay, more women” sentiment — ignores such a point in favor of a “aren’t the struggles of millennials funny?” point.

With the end of the year coming and all the year-end lists your favorite critics have to compile — and yes, it requires being aware of and knowledgeable about a lot of content… at least, if you do your job right — this Netflix sketch speaks so true to life. Honestly, just as a person who wants to watch anything on Netflix, this is also true to life. The bit about there only being 12 movies worth watching out of the thousands available? That’s it. That’s Netflix. (The only thing missing in this sketch is the struggle of determining if the movie on Netflix you think looks interesting is super mumblecore or if it’s just basically softcore porn.)

This sketch only features a little bit of Claire Foy (with the teen version of “The Crown,” “Saved by the Crown”), but the whole thing is great. The gritty “Family Matters” (because of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”) finally has Carl Winslow (Kenan Thompson, of course) get rid of a very Stevil-looking Urkel (Chris Redd); Leslie Jones provides a better alternative to “Comedians in Cars…” with “Leslie Jones in a Van Getting Batteries;” and all of one person’s favorite British show, “Kennymeade Depot,” gets some love. But the pièce de résistance is the fake Entourage movies (like “Medellin” and the timeless classic “Queens Blvd.”) being on the docket. Outside references to “I am Queens Boulevard” will never not be hilarious.

Foy as a disaffected American teen is strangely entrancing in this “Dad Christmas” sketch. Plus, Aidy Bryant’s role as, basically, a spokesperson for “Dad Christmas” is just the right amount of surreal, and then she cranks up the humor with the “Last Christmas” song parody.

Also, this sketch might just be too true (see: the place in Florida nowhere near a beach)…except for the cool dad part of it at the end. Merry Christmas, everyone.

“Good Morning Goomah” is pretty much “Bronx Beat” with a mob mistress twist, but it’s got a couple of things going for it. The first is Foy channeling her inner Marissa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny” for this sketch. The second is her reaction to mobster Peter Davidson being completely crappy to her — after all the trying to show she’s a tough chick — when she screams, “Why are you so perfect?!” to his very imperfect character.

Best Sketch of The Night: “The War in Words”

How quickly this goes from a sketch that doesn’t seem like it will be anything special to causing laughter to the point of tears. Really, as soon as Foy’s Margaret gives her first very flippant response letter (“James — sounds dreadful. Love, Margaret”), it is off to the races. The growing frustration of her husband James (Mikey Day) and continued flippant-turned-oblivious (the photograph bit is beautiful) nature of Foy’s Margaret is just the sort of good build that “SNL” doesn’t usually seem concerned with creating in their sketches.

By the time Kenan shows up as Henry (“James — Henry is the man in the photograph”), the audience has lost it and for good reason. Considering how much the cast breaks for pretty weak sketches, it’s strange but also a joy (so as not to ruin the flow) that’s not the case here for something genuinely great.

Worst Sketch of The Night: “Morning Joe” & ”Charlie’s Grandparents”

While both Foy and Villaseñor (whose ability to change her very distinct voice when necessary really is quite impressive) are fully committed here, this sketch doesn’t really rely on anyone but Alex Moffat and Kate McKinnon giving it their all. (Kenan Thompson and Mikey Day are also here.) Plus, it’s the same joke every time — and it’s never been a particularly funny one — that is only happening again because the real Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough finally got married. May this sketch stay dead and buried. (It won’t, will it?)

As for the Willy Wonka sketch, it’s so bad that it doesn’t even get Honorable Mention status: It’s truly tied with “Morning Joe” for worst, even though “Morning Joe” is mostly bad because it’s a recurring sketch that’s never been good. Really, technically “Morning Joe” is actually the Honorable Mention.

While the “Grandparents” joke is bad, it’s also just a case of it getting so loud it’s actually nonsense. The sketch devolves into LOUD NOISES, with “SNL’s” historically bad audio mixing all of a sudden appearing in sketch form. Whatever song Kate’s singing is completely drowned out; and while that’s the intent for the story of the sketch, it’s still something they clearly wanted the audience to hear.

Oh, and the show literally did a Willy Wonka/Charlie’s weird, poor family sketch just two seasons ago — with Kristen Stewart — that was actually a funny, smart take on that. (Dumb can be funny. This failed on that front.)

Best Male Performer: Kenan Thompson

“Officer Winslow” Kenan, “HSN” Kenan, “Henry” Kenan. Kenan isn’t necessarily all over the episode, but he is prominently featured in three of the best sketches of the episode. Also, leave it to Kenan not even attempt a British accent during “The War in Words.” You do you, Kenan.

Best Female Performer: Cecily Strong

On the one hand, Claire Foy and Cecily Strong’s roles in the “HSN” sketch should probably have been reversed, so Foy would have one hell of a manic sketch performance to hang her hat on with her first time hosting “SNL.” On the other hand, Foy already has a great (albeit understated, for obvious reason) performance in this episode via the aforementioned Best Sketch of the Night, and Cecily just absolutely kills here. Then Aidy Bryant (who is right there behind her in this week’s Best Female Performer designation this week, to be fair) shows up, sounding like a Sugarbaker woman, and it’s truly a beautiful thing.

Also, Cecily snapping in the “All I Want For Christmas” number is a really good bit (in a number which thankfully doesn’t go full “Hallelujah”), slightly reminiscent of Jessica Chastain’s breakdown in last season’s “What Even Matters Anymore” sketch.

Final Thoughts

Well, Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump is back. And somehow, the lip-puckering has gotten even more out of control. That’s all the “impression” even is anymore — that’s pretty much all it was before, but it’s lost all sense of even being adjacent to good after all this time. Then there are of course the celebrity cameos, with Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen and Fred Armisen as the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; the latter at least provides some reluctant laughs with Beck Bennett’s Vladimir Putin and their BFF status and elaborate handshake.

Any problems with this episode honestly aren’t on Foy’s part. The aforementioned Worst Sketch(es) of the Night and the return of Baldwin Trump are also right there. Then with Weekend Update, there’s Leslie Jones’ stumbling all over her Weekend Update set (and her roofie joke on “All I Want For Christmas” — really?) and the usual Weekend Update jokes falling flat (which is really just bombing at this point, as Che steamrolls his way to the next joke after his first bomb, only to do the opposite with the second bomb, the waxing joke). In Che’s defense though, he does have a good bit when he lists 50-somethings who look better than Leslie, with Leslie trying to fight him…especially once he says “Judge Judy.”

And Beck Bennett’s new Weekend Update character (as “Jules, Who See Things a Little Differently”) is almost a highlight, but given the anchor he interacts with (Colin Jost, who also can’t do a good Russian accent), the bit ends up lacking a self-awareness: When Jost says, “I’ve never hated anyone this much” about this entitled rich guy character who is skating by on just that, that’s after he’s incredulously said “Dude!” in response to the Jules character. Is this the first-time an earnest “Dude!” has been uttered on Weekend Update?

The tribute to George H.W. Bush though — on World AIDS Day, of all days — is even more toothless than expected, as Jost calls him “a warm and gracious man who understood the power of laughing at yourself.” (So if Trump could laugh at himself, everything would be fine then, right?) You know, you don’t have to speak ill of the dead: You can just not mention them at all.

Overall, this is a solid, safe first-time episode for Claire Foy. She does a few accents, showing her range on that front like Adam Driver did, of course so she can keep getting hired in America, and while she doesn’t quite go as weird as Liev Schreiber, she thankfully isn’t as flat as Awkwafina. She’s also given material to work with, even if she’s not the standout of each of her sketches; again, this is the first-time, so there’s always next time. And the time after that. (She even got a “cut for time” sketch with Beck and Kyle Mooney, which is pretty much a badge of honor.) As for first-time musical guest Anderson .Paak., while the pairing seems strange on paper, both “SNL” newbies make a good first impression.

Grade: B

Jimmy Fallon Makes ‘SNL’ Host Claire Foy Perform ‘Rapper’s Delight’ (Video)

Claire Foy had better be (more) ready for anything Saturday when she hosts “SNL.”

Jimmy Fallon put “The Crown” star on the spot Thursday, when he made her perform The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”

“Oh my God!” a nervous Foy exclaimed when she was handed a mic and “Tonight Show” host house band The Roots started the beat.

Also Read: Watch ‘Conan’ Producer Jordan Schlansky Get Totally Owned by Childhood Hero Ralph Macchio (Video)

She did it though, and no one can ever say Foy doesn’t have these lyrics DOWN.

Watch the video above.

Foy’s musical guest tomorrow is Anderson .Paak. “SNL” airs Saturdays starting at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ Hits 2-Year Ratings High With Thanksgiving Episode

Can Jimmy Fallon Do 25 Pushups? (Video)

Claire Foy had better be (more) ready for anything Saturday when she hosts “SNL.”

Jimmy Fallon put “The Crown” star on the spot Thursday, when he made her perform The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”

“Oh my God!” a nervous Foy exclaimed when she was handed a mic and “Tonight Show” host house band The Roots started the beat.

She did it though, and no one can ever say Foy doesn’t have these lyrics DOWN.

Watch the video above.

Foy’s musical guest tomorrow is Anderson .Paak. “SNL” airs Saturdays starting at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jimmy Fallon Doing Trump Doing Elvis Is What Late-Night Needed This Week (Video)

Jimmy Fallon's 'Tonight Show' Hits 2-Year Ratings High With Thanksgiving Episode

Can Jimmy Fallon Do 25 Pushups? (Video)

‘SNL’ Promo With Claire Foy & Pete Davidson Devolves Into Feed-For-All

Claire Foy and her queenly accent will be center stage at Studio 8H this weekend to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and today we got the promo for her episode. It features castmember Pete Davidson telling the TV royal about “an SNL traditio…

Claire Foy and her queenly accent will be center stage at Studio 8H this weekend to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and today we got the promo for her episode. It features castmember Pete Davidson telling the TV royal about “an SNL tradition that we have to do with every host” — one that, if true, might have begun with Animal House-era John Belushi. Without giving too much away — not that its plot is under Saran wrap: The host and the comic square off in a slo-mo display…

Claire Foy, Jason Momoa, Matt Damon to Host ‘Saturday Night Live’

“Saturday Night Live” has set its hosts for the final three episodes of 2018: Claire Foy, Jason Momoa and Matt Damon. Foy, who will host on Dec. 1, the first episode back for the NBC late night sketch series after a week off for the Thanksg…

“Saturday Night Live” has set its hosts for the final three episodes of 2018: Claire Foy, Jason Momoa and Matt Damon. Foy, who will host on Dec. 1, the first episode back for the NBC late night sketch series after a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, stars in “First Man” as astronaut wife, Janet […]

Jason Momoa, Matt Damon to Host ‘Saturday Night Live’ in December

“Aquaman” star Jason Momoa and Matt Damon are lined up as the next two “Saturday Night Live” hosts, following the previously announced Dec. 1 host, Claire Foy.

Foy, who starred in this year’s “First Man” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” will be joined by “SNL” first-timer Anderson .Paak as the musical guest on this week’s show.

On Dec. 8, “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa will make his “Saturday Night Live” debut, joined by three-time musical guest Mumford & Sons.

Also Read: Steve Carell to Return as ‘SNL’ Host for the Third Time

They will be followed by Matt Damon on Dec. 15, who made a surprise appearance on the show earlier this season, portraying embattled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Mark Ronson & Miley Cyrus will perform, premiering a song from Ronson’s upcoming album.

Early present for you. ????#SNL pic.twitter.com/gwfSdqP76f

— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) November 26, 2018

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“Aquaman” star Jason Momoa and Matt Damon are lined up as the next two “Saturday Night Live” hosts, following the previously announced Dec. 1 host, Claire Foy.

Foy, who starred in this year’s “First Man” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” will be joined by “SNL” first-timer Anderson .Paak as the musical guest on this week’s show.

On Dec. 8, “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa will make his “Saturday Night Live” debut, joined by three-time musical guest Mumford & Sons.

They will be followed by Matt Damon on Dec. 15, who made a surprise appearance on the show earlier this season, portraying embattled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Mark Ronson & Miley Cyrus will perform, premiering a song from Ronson’s upcoming album.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Seth Meyers Returns to Studio 8H in 'Saturday Night Live' Promo (Video)

Awkwafina Is a Crazy Rich Asian in First 'Saturday Night Live' Promo (Video)

'Saturday Night Live' Slammed for Charlie Sheen Joke: 'Threw People With HIV Under the Bus' (Video)

Claire Foy To Host ‘Saturday Night Live’

Former The Crown star Claire Foy will make her Saturday Night Live hosting debut on Dec. 1. The announcement was made during tonight’s edition of NBC’s late-night sketch show hosted by Steve Carell. She will be joined by fellow SNL first-ti…

Former The Crown star Claire Foy will make her Saturday Night Live hosting debut on Dec. 1. The announcement was made during tonight’s edition of NBC’s late-night sketch show hosted by Steve Carell. She will be joined by fellow SNL first-timer, Anderson .Paak, who will serve as a musical guest. Foy is coming off a two-season starring turn as Elizabeth II on Netflix’s drama seres The Crown, which earned her an Emmy and a Golden Globe awards. She currently stars as Lisbeth…

How the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Movie Franchise Lost Its Mojo, But Can Still Get It Back (Column)

There’s a feeling you get, sort of like a low-grade fever, when a film franchise is starting to run down. It’s had three or four sequels, it’s going through the motions, there’s no more fresh terrain left to plow. That sensation hovers, like a gr…

There’s a feeling you get, sort of like a low-grade fever, when a film franchise is starting to run down. It’s had three or four sequels, it’s going through the motions, there’s no more fresh terrain left to plow. That sensation hovers, like a gray cloud, over “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” a movie […]

Which Actress Is the Best Lisbeth Salander: Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, or Noomi Rapace?

As the third iteration of the “Dragon Tattoo” franchise comes to the big screen, IndieWire debates the merits of its different leading ladies.

Adapted from the fourth novel of the best-selling “Millennium” series — which David Lagercrantz continued after the death of original author Stieg Larsson — Fede Álvarez’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is technically a (distant) sequel to David Fincher’s 2011 thriller, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” In reality, however, this new movie is nothing less (and nothing more) than a bonafide franchise reboot, as far removed from Fincher’s movie as Fincher’s movie was from the trilogy of Swedish films that director Niels Arden Oplev first made from Larsson’s books.

To recap: There are now three distinct film versions of hacker Lisbeth Salander, and “The Girl in the Spider Web” is her fifth on-screen adventure. In Oplev’s triptych, the feminist vigilante was played by “Prometheus” actress Noomi Rapace. In Fincher’s one and only stab at the series, she was recast with Rooney Mara. Now, “The Crown” star Claire Foy has adopted the character’s signature nü-metal scowl, reinventing the role as some kind of hi-tech spy, while also proving the part to be as interchangeable as James Bond.

But there are James Bonds, and there are James Bonds. Audiences have never had trouble understanding how Pierce Brosnan might suddenly be replaced by Daniel Craig, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a world of difference between, say, Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. A character may grow iconic enough to survive a casting change, but it’s always possible that some intrinsic part of who they are might get lost in the process. Has that happened here?

Critics have not been kind to this third (and potentially final) big-screen iteration of the series, with IndieWire Film Editor Kate Erbland writing that “it’s laden with undercooked revelations that muddle the story, misunderstanding that narrative ‘twists’ don’t always result in a ‘twisted’ story.” Her review typifies the response to the film, which currently has a foul score of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, Kate had kind things to say about Foy’s performance, writing that “she’s evolved beyond a dead-eyed computer whiz and into a slightly more emotional warrior with a real flair for punishing baddies,” before concluding that Foy “turns in the best depiction of Lisbeth yet.”

Alas, that sentiment is not entirely shared around the office; for IndieWire Senior Film Critic David Ehrlich, Foy is a poor imitation of the previous Lisbeths. There can be only one. And so, Kate and David have been left with no other choice but to hash out their differences and decide once and for all who should be remembered as the definitive Lisbeth Salander.

DAVID: For me, determining the best Lisbeth Salander is similar to determining the best Spider-Man: Three major actors played the character in a ridiculously short period of time, and all three of them were asked to do radically different things in the role.

Noomi Rapace had the opportunity (and responsibility) to originate the role, and crystallize our idea of who Lisbeth is and what she looks like. Her Lisbeth was the softest and least heightened of them all — a recognizable human being who was slowly whittled into a sharp instrument over the course of three somewhat grounded detective stories. Rapace was never able to make Lisbeth’s Hot Topic style feel like anything more than an affectation, but she seemed to be aware of that; over time, she began to wear those affectations like a suit of armor, allowing Lisbeth to protect herself from years of violent trauma, and fight back against the sinister misogyny she saw in the world.

Rooney Mara is by far the coldest and most hostile of the three Lisbeths, and also (by far) my favorite. Fincher saw the character as a tornado in a snow globe — a tightly repressed Furie in a rigid world of clean leans and inflexible power structures — and Mara ran with that. Hardly just the badass goth hacker chick she used to be, this Lisbeth is a fresh welt surrounded by scar tissue, a brilliant survivor who taps into her trauma like a superpower, only to be tortured by the collateral damage left behind. Mara pierces through layers of affect and rage to create something that’s heightened but indivisibly real. Check out the moment when Lisbeth knocks that guy down on the subway escalator and then takes an extra second just to scream in his face as though tapping into her own twisted form of self-care. It might be the best performance that Fincher has ever directed.

And then we have Claire Foy. Poor Claire Foy. First things first: She’s an extraordinary talent, and one of those English stars who we’ll probably be watching for the next several decades. She does compelling work in a thankless role in “First Man,” and her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth on “The Crown” was one of the most rivetingly internalized performances in television history. In other words, I’m a fan… which makes it harder to tell if she’s terrible in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” or terribly miscast. I think I’m going to go with “both.” On the one hand, she’s totally abandoned by a movie that doesn’t really care about her character: Lisbeth is more of a presence here than she is an actual human being, and it doesn’t help that she’s been reborn as a sorceress who can manipulate every computer screen on Earth just by thinking about it. This Lisbeth is part James Bond and part Ultron — better suited to the MCU than she is to backcountry Sweden — and there isn’t exactly much time for nuance while she’s trying to stop her evil sister from using a doomsday device or whatever.

Kate, tell me I’m wrong.

KATE: David, you’re wrong. While I appreciate your admiration for Mara’s work in just one film and your nuanced reflection on Rapace’s arc (and how it’s become annoyingly out of fashion to let actors actually grow into franchise roles, versus just tossing them out every time the word “reboot” is so much as uttered, which is to say, it’s uttered far too often these days), but you’re wrong.

Or, to be a bit more charitable, not wrong so much as we simply seem to fundamentally disagree on not only Foy’s role in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” but Lisbeth’s, who is finally, finally allowed to be the lead character in a series that has so often ceded its focus to male journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his obsession with her. Álvarez’s film opens at a strange time in Lisbeth’s life: no longer allowed to be a private citizen, a wholly known quantity, and intent as ever on righting a whole mess of wrongs. The opening scene of the film establishes Foy’s Lisbeth bonafides immediately, as she appears out of nowhere to ruin the life of another bad, bad man. It’s the first time I’ve ever been frightened of Foy, but the best part of her performance is that such fear doesn’t carry through the rest of the film. Instead, we get to see Lisbeth in her most human form yet.

You may value Rapace’s slow burn and Mara’s impenetrable coldness, but those are the very elements that always made Lisbeth feel like not so much a person, but a personification of female rage. Of course Lisbeth’s backstory is tragic and horrible — that’s always been a given in the books and films — and of course it’s shaped her in ways that most people could ever imagine, but it’s refreshing to finally see a human underneath all that emotional rubble. I don’t want a Lisbeth who is so unwavering that she can never surprise you, I want to see a Lisbeth who turns her pain into action, even as you know it’s pain.

Yes, Mara’s subway toss is something, but when Foy is literally sucked into a rubber bag and left to writhe in terrible pain and fear, her Lisbeth is allowed to show all the horror and strength that have shaped her, all in one indelible (and, yes, gross, given the parental connotations) image. What about when she finally sees Blomkvist after months apart and manages to convey emotional range across a literal chasm? Or her ravenous appetite for truly terrible food that Foy manages to make look both appealing and repulsive? She may occasionally be saddled with some infallible James Bond-isms — that jump into the tub during a fireball, come on — but the human moments are the ones that set her performance apart. Lisbeth isn’t a superhero, she’s not a super spy, she’s a person, and Foy sells that in a way that we haven’t seen in years.

DAVID: You mention the moment when sees Blomkvist across a literal chasm, but the biggest void in this movie is Blomkvist himself. In my day, we had Daniel Craig taking a dark and gritty vacation from actually playing James Bond. Now, we have a soggy mop of a man who’s too spineless to do right by Vicky Krieps, played by an actor who’s too boring for me to do even IMDb his name. In other words, Lisbeth Salander 3.0 is stuck in a movie that no one — not Foy, nor anyone else — could have saved.

And yet… she still seems totally wrong for the part. Trapped in an imitation of the actresses who came before her, there isn’t a single scene in the movie that doesn’t feel like Foy is just dressing up as Lisbeth Salander for Halloween. She’s never as serrated or wounded or dangerous as either Mara or Rapace — her performance isn’t human enough to make the character real, or extreme enough to make all that black latex feel like anything more than nü-metal nonsense. If such a strong actress can’t salvage Lisbeth Salander, it might just be time to force quit this franchise and let its heroine retire to whatever edge-lord BDSM nightclub she calls home.

KATE: If this franchise needs to retire, it’s not Foy’s fault, it’s because the gas ran out on the series years ago and is simply spinning its (edgy, hip, cool motorcycle) wheels. There are “timely” elements to this story — and, yes, one last time, I think Foy brings them a real humanity and honesty — but they feel shoved into a leather-clad story that mostly resists evolving any other element of its narrative. Even some tattoos fade.

The Girl In The Spider’s Web pits Lisbeth Salander against multiple foes—and the franchise machine

For a few minutes early on, The Girl In The Spider’s Web seems to promise a kind of feminist Batman movie—specifically, Christopher Nolan’s modern breed of Batman movie, with all the edgy nihilism and slick, rain-soaked cinematography that comes with i…

For a few minutes early on, The Girl In The Spider’s Web seems to promise a kind of feminist Batman movie—specifically, Christopher Nolan’s modern breed of Batman movie, with all the edgy nihilism and slick, rain-soaked cinematography that comes with it. That’s thanks to a scene that was heavily excerpted in the…

Read more...

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’: Claire Foy on Becoming Lisbeth Salander

Before stepping into Lisbeth Salander’s shoes for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” Claire Foy didn’t watch any of the previous films, which starred Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. “I didn’t watch them ahead,” the Golden Globe winner told Variet…

Before stepping into Lisbeth Salander’s shoes for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” Claire Foy didn’t watch any of the previous films, which starred Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. “I didn’t watch them ahead,” the Golden Globe winner told Variety on Sunday at the NYC screening of the movie. “I think that would […]

How ‘The Crown’ Helped Claire Foy Land ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web,’ Even Though the Characters Are Totally Different

Filmmaker Fede Alvarez explained to IndieWire how the Emmy-winning actress’ role as Queen Elizabeth made it clear she could play misanthropic hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Emmy-winning actress Claire Foy is in a persistent state of professional transformation. While most audiences only got hip to the British star’s talents thanks to her two-season turn as Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s hit series “The Crown,” the star has spent the past couple of years rounding out her resume with a series of very different big screen parts, from biopics like “Breathe” to the dramedy “The Lady in the Van.”

This year, with “The Crown” behind her — Olivia Colman will take over the role next season — Foy turned her attentions to three new films, including Fede Alvarez’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” which marks her biggest transformation yet.

As misanthropic hacker Lisbeth Salander, Foy is tasked with taking on a role that’s not only been played by two different actresses, including Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace, but one that requires its star to dramatically alter her appearance to match up with author Stiegg Larson’s vivid descriptions. When Foy was announced for the film in September of last year, the casting was seen as a surprise. The actress who plays Queen Elizabeth? Really? Alvarez expected that, and was eager to work against whatever expectations people already had for both Foy and Lisbeth.

“Every time we announce some cast for some character that you saw before or you read before, it’s very unlikely that the person looks like whatever you imagined when you read the book,” Alvarez said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “Plus, when it’s already been interpreted in some movie with another actor, then you compare with that actor. … When the choice is obvious and everybody goes like, ‘Oh, that’s a great choice,’ it’s because that actor has played similar characters in the past. That’s all it means.”

Foy was also unbothered by those early expectations. She just wanted to play Lisbeth. “I absolutely loved her,” Foy said. “I really relished the challenge of making the movie. … I think it’s an odd thing to want people to have a certain experience when they go to the cinema. It’s not up to me to dictate that to people. It’s just for me to listen and go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting that you thought that.'”

Lisbeth, with her blunt haircut and multiple tattoos and piercings, cuts an instantly recognizable figure. Alvarez said he wasn’t impressed by actors who can just don the exterior look of a character. “The clothes and the makeup, anybody can do that. Most actors, if they’re the right age and physicality, they’ll look the part,” he said. “The hardest part is to be able to play those emotions in a fair way. In order to do that, there has to be something about you this is very similar to the character.”

The Crown - Elizabeth - Elizabeth watches Philip's plane take off

Claire Foy, “The Crown”

Stuart Hendry / Netflix

He found that in Foy, who Alvarez said was much closer to Lisbeth and Queen Elizabeth than she might appear at first glance.

“Claire presents herself in a certain way and she’s very easygoing and light-hearted, but she is in person way more similar to Lisbeth than what you think,” Alvarez said. “She has a lot of fire and a lot of passion for what she does. She says all the time, she’s very angry at a lot of things all the time, she doesn’t even know at what sometimes, but she always says herself that she’s very angry. There’s so many, many, many things that really, really connect with her. So, when it comes to play a lot of those emotions, she takes from her real experience. … I think she knows those emotions and she knows that place in the world in a way, and that’s the toughest part.”

That might also be why Foy proved to be so successful at playing young Queen Elizabeth on “The Crown,” and Alvarez sees some distinct similarities between the two roles: they’re both apart concealing emotion, but they both require an actress who is also able to let the audience realize what’s actually going on under the surface.

“It’s really about how she’s going to show you as an audience what she really feels when what she’s actively doing all of the time is concealing those feelings from you,” he said. “Lisbeth Salander doesn’t want you to know how she really feels. She will hide as much as she can her true emotions. … She’s really good at repressing those emotions. The Queen has to do that all the time. The Queen is not allowed to be herself, she’s not allowed to be angry at someone or be unpolite. She has to stay in this mask, but what makes this performance amazing is that you know exactly what’s going on every moment. You know when she’s angry, when she’s sad, when she’s happy, even though she keeps a poker face. Lisbeth is the same in a way.”

For Alvarez, that’s what sets Foy apart from the pack, and why she’s able to disappear into roles that might seem to be so dissimilar. They’re all Foy.

“There’s certain actors you can tell them, ‘Okay, I want you to be very fierce in this movie, in this scene, but I want you to be terrified at the same time,” the filmmaker said. “Most actors will go, ‘What do you want? Fierce or terrified?’ She gets it right away. She’ll play it fierce, but she’ll be terrified. You’ll see it and you’ll feel it, and that’s truly incredible to see. Not a lot of actors can do that.”

Sony Pictures will release “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” in theaters on Friday, November 9.

Fede Alvarez Directed ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Because He Wanted to Make the Film Previous Directors Didn’t

The filmmaker tells IndieWire he was inspired to join the franchise by a simple, but radical idea: to finally make a film centered on “feminine icon” Lisbeth Salander.

Fede Alvarez isn’t afraid of franchises — the Uruguayan filmmaker made his feature directorial debut with the 2013 reboot of the beloved “Evil Dead” series — but he is wary of them. That’s why it’s a bit of a surprise that for his third feature, Alvarez opted to again plunge himself into a well-known franchise that’s been through two iterations. The latest film in the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” franchise, the Alvarez-directed “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” is a wholly recast take on the English-language version of the series’ first book.

Starring Claire Foy as misanthropic hacker Lisbeth Salander, the film jumps years ahead of the ending of David Fincher’s Rooney Mara-starring “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” picking up the twisted story after the events of the third book in Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Alvarez’s film not only tells the story through Lisbeth’s eyes, but also builds in a wrenching emotional subplot that does wonders for building the tattooed antiheroine’s back story. Alvarez said that was his intention.

“One of the things that I feel that need to be done, and was kind of strange that they hadn’t, was to really make a movie about her,” he said. “The other movies are really not about her. They are told from the point of view of a man, of the journalist Mikael Blomkvist. He is really the connection with the audience and the one that has more screentime, and she kind of tags along into his story.”

The film’s script, written by Steven Knight, Jay Basu, and Alvarez, moves the series’ traditional focus on Blomkvist (now played by Sverrir Gudnason) to Lisbeth. For the first time in five films, it’s Blomkvist who takes a backseat to Lisbeth.

“For such a feminine icon like she is, it was kind of unfair that she was there to service the man’s story in the first one and then the second and third one,” he said. “I was like, ‘We need to make a movie about her.’ She is the center of it. We started the story with her and we end the story with her. And, yeah, Blomkvist is there, but to serve her story. … That’s what I felt wasn’t done, and it was exciting for me to go and make a movie which is going to be all about Lisbeth Salander.”

Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) in Columbia Pictures' THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”

Nadja Klier

That said, Alvarez said he was wary about potentially returning to the franchise. “Just to make it just for the sake of it, or because they work or because people like it, I think that’s not a good reason,” he said. “Every time something is rebooted or remade, people complain, but people forget that if you don’t do that, the characters will die, they literally will die. You have to really keep telling the stories of the characters, otherwise, a generation goes by and people forget about them. If I’ll do it, it really depends on if the next story has something really to say about her that hasn’t been said before.”

Alvarez’s franchise aversion has even extended to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As he admitted during a set visit for his second film, “Don’t Breathe,” he passed on an MCU opportunity because he was afraid it wouldn’t allow creative freedom. He’s starting to come around on that idea, though.

“When I said that, I was coming off of ‘Evil Dead,’ and back then I thought the system would destroy me,” he said. “I was just coming out with my first movie, [and I thought], ‘Now I gotta take some big studio movie, I’ll never get away with what I want to do.’ If you don’t have enough movies under your belt, [when you need] to prove that you’re right when you come up with the craziest idea — which usually what happens with a movie’s director — it’s pretty lonely a lot of times.”

He’s heartened by the recent uptick in MCU films from filmmakers allowed to inject their own sensibilities. “I think these days, it has changed,” he said. “And from friends that [worked on] some of those movies, it depends which ones, but it’s true that some of the Marvel movies, they actually went for directors and they allowed them to get their voice [in the films]. Like ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ you can definitely see [Taika Waititi’s] voice all over the movie, literally in one of the characters.”

He continued, “It’s true that they have changed and they have a good reputation when it comes to working with filmmakers. Then there’s other sagas that they don’t. There’s other movies that you still have to abide by a template. That was something great about this one, there was no template really. The only thing I need to do right was to get the character right. To get the character right, then you can change everything else and you’ll be fine. The only thing you cannot do is betray the character and do a bad adaptation of it. That would be the biggest sin.”

Sony Pictures will release “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” in theaters on Friday, November 9.

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Film Review: Claire Foy’s Elisabeth Salander Adventure Trades Angst for Espionage

The world-famous Swedish vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander is back, and this time she’s saving the world from nuclear annihilation. It’s a bit of a shift for Salander; when last we saw her in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” she was solving serial murders and exacting painful revenge on abusive male accountants.

In Fede Alvarez’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” she’s stealing from the NSA, surviving explosions in bathtubs and getting in a whole bunch of car chases. It’s like if “Goldfinger” was the sequel to “Psycho.” It may be undeniably cool to watch, but it’s hard to deny that it’s a tonal Crazy Ivan.

It’s been three years since Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy, taking over from Oscar nominee Rooney Mara) last worked with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason, formerly Daniel Craig). She’s been using her mad hacking skills to punish abusive husbands, but she’s still got a day job, and when she’s asked to perform “the impossible,” she can’t resist the challenge.

Watch Video: Watch Claire Foy’s Badass Take on Lisbeth Salander in New ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Trailer

Ex-NSA employee Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) created a computer program which could hack any nuclear weapon on the planet, but he didn’t realize until it was too late that that was an insanely stupid thing to do. So he hires Salander to get it back, and as soon as she does, her apartment is firebombed, and she’s the new Public Enemy #1.

Salander has to retrieve the MacGuffin — sorry, the “Firefall” — and save Balder from a sinister organization called The Spiders, who have been hired by an even more sinister villain whose identity is unknown. Somehow, the scheme also ties into Salander’s past, because the film begins with an elaborate prologue and title sequence about her abusive father and long-lost sister, and that’s hardly a coincidence.

Also Read: Claire Foy Says Lisbeth Salander Isn’t ‘Poster Girl’ for #MeToo – Because Abuse Has ‘Always Been There’

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” isn’t based on one of the novels in the “Millennium” series written by Stieg Larsson — it’s an adaptation of a later Salander adventure written by David Lagercrantz — but it’s still a pulpy adventure spawned by realistic pain and suffering. Unlike the US “Dragon Tattoo” and the three Scandinavian adaptations of Larsson’s books, Alvarez’s film isn’t a harsh character study or a brutal indictment of a misogynistic society: It’s a fast-moving thriller about nuclear launch codes, and there’s hardly any time for little luxuries like character development and themes.

That being said, it’s a crackerjack thriller. Alvarez cut his teeth on suspenseful horror thrillers like “Don’t Breathe” and the “Evil Dead” remake, and he seems eager to use those skills to please crowds instead of to terrify them. Salander gets in two inventive car chases — one of them on drugs with a corpse riding shotgun — and fights off bad guys in glowing gas masks with a cattle prod. It’s not potent, it’s not insightful, it’s just really, really cool.

Lisbeth Salander hasn’t completely lost her edge. She’s probably the only action-movie hero around whose plans involve suitcases full of dildos. But she’s clearly moved on, no doubt thanks to the two installments in her saga that “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” skips. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” have already taken place in this continuity — the characters talk about those events in the past tense — and so we’ve skipped quite a bit of her character development. Claire Foy gives Salander all the tortured drive she can muster, but she’s quite busy scamming the government and stealing Lamborghinis. The fury is gone from the character, but the kick-butt heroism remains.

Also Read: ‘The Crown’ Stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith on What They’ll Miss Most About Royal Roles

We’ve also skipped over any need to have her sidekick, Mikael Blomkvist, in the movie anymore. The plot of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” had the two characters on a collision course, two protagonists destined to meet and join forces. “Spider’s Web” is clearly Salander’s story, with Blomkvist contributing almost nothing to the story that she couldn’t figure out on her own. He’s in the movie for the same reason Leo Getz was in “Lethal Weapon 3”; because it’s obligatory now. Never mind giving him something to do.

Still, “Spider’s Web” spins along at such a fast clip that none of the details matter. When did NSA computer specialist Edwin Neeham (Lakeith Stanfield) also become a sniper? Who cares! How did Salander’s father develop a fetish for vacuum-sealing people into vinyl bags? It doesn’t matter! Why does so much of this story seem like it was lifted from the movie “Sneakers”? Because “Sneakers” is awesome, that’s why!

This franchise seemed so punk rock when David Fincher and Niels Arden Oplev were directing it. Now, it’s a clean and efficient espionage thriller with the whole world at stake and no subtext to speak of. And it’s an extremely entertaining one. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is such an absorbing airplane novel of a movie that you half expect to walk out of the theater and into O’Hare International. Your flight was on time, and the turbulence was totally badass.



Related stories from TheWrap:

11 Riskiest, Priciest Movie Gambles This Fall, From ‘Venom’ to ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Michael Nyqvist, ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Star, Dies at 56

Lakeith Stanfield Apologizes for ‘Offensive Freestyle’ Video’s Homophobic Rap Lyrics

‘The Crown’ Producers Apologize to Stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith Over Pay Gap ‘Media Storm’

The world-famous Swedish vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander is back, and this time she’s saving the world from nuclear annihilation. It’s a bit of a shift for Salander; when last we saw her in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” she was solving serial murders and exacting painful revenge on abusive male accountants.

In Fede Alvarez’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” she’s stealing from the NSA, surviving explosions in bathtubs and getting in a whole bunch of car chases. It’s like if “Goldfinger” was the sequel to “Psycho.” It may be undeniably cool to watch, but it’s hard to deny that it’s a tonal Crazy Ivan.

It’s been three years since Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy, taking over from Oscar nominee Rooney Mara) last worked with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason, formerly Daniel Craig). She’s been using her mad hacking skills to punish abusive husbands, but she’s still got a day job, and when she’s asked to perform “the impossible,” she can’t resist the challenge.

Ex-NSA employee Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) created a computer program which could hack any nuclear weapon on the planet, but he didn’t realize until it was too late that that was an insanely stupid thing to do. So he hires Salander to get it back, and as soon as she does, her apartment is firebombed, and she’s the new Public Enemy #1.

Salander has to retrieve the MacGuffin — sorry, the “Firefall” — and save Balder from a sinister organization called The Spiders, who have been hired by an even more sinister villain whose identity is unknown. Somehow, the scheme also ties into Salander’s past, because the film begins with an elaborate prologue and title sequence about her abusive father and long-lost sister, and that’s hardly a coincidence.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” isn’t based on one of the novels in the “Millennium” series written by Stieg Larsson — it’s an adaptation of a later Salander adventure written by David Lagercrantz — but it’s still a pulpy adventure spawned by realistic pain and suffering. Unlike the US “Dragon Tattoo” and the three Scandinavian adaptations of Larsson’s books, Alvarez’s film isn’t a harsh character study or a brutal indictment of a misogynistic society: It’s a fast-moving thriller about nuclear launch codes, and there’s hardly any time for little luxuries like character development and themes.

That being said, it’s a crackerjack thriller. Alvarez cut his teeth on suspenseful horror thrillers like “Don’t Breathe” and the “Evil Dead” remake, and he seems eager to use those skills to please crowds instead of to terrify them. Salander gets in two inventive car chases — one of them on drugs with a corpse riding shotgun — and fights off bad guys in glowing gas masks with a cattle prod. It’s not potent, it’s not insightful, it’s just really, really cool.

Lisbeth Salander hasn’t completely lost her edge. She’s probably the only action-movie hero around whose plans involve suitcases full of dildos. But she’s clearly moved on, no doubt thanks to the two installments in her saga that “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” skips. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” have already taken place in this continuity — the characters talk about those events in the past tense — and so we’ve skipped quite a bit of her character development. Claire Foy gives Salander all the tortured drive she can muster, but she’s quite busy scamming the government and stealing Lamborghinis. The fury is gone from the character, but the kick-butt heroism remains.

We’ve also skipped over any need to have her sidekick, Mikael Blomkvist, in the movie anymore. The plot of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” had the two characters on a collision course, two protagonists destined to meet and join forces. “Spider’s Web” is clearly Salander’s story, with Blomkvist contributing almost nothing to the story that she couldn’t figure out on her own. He’s in the movie for the same reason Leo Getz was in “Lethal Weapon 3”; because it’s obligatory now. Never mind giving him something to do.

Still, “Spider’s Web” spins along at such a fast clip that none of the details matter. When did NSA computer specialist Edwin Neeham (Lakeith Stanfield) also become a sniper? Who cares! How did Salander’s father develop a fetish for vacuum-sealing people into vinyl bags? It doesn’t matter! Why does so much of this story seem like it was lifted from the movie “Sneakers”? Because “Sneakers” is awesome, that’s why!

This franchise seemed so punk rock when David Fincher and Niels Arden Oplev were directing it. Now, it’s a clean and efficient espionage thriller with the whole world at stake and no subtext to speak of. And it’s an extremely entertaining one. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is such an absorbing airplane novel of a movie that you half expect to walk out of the theater and into O’Hare International. Your flight was on time, and the turbulence was totally badass.

Related stories from TheWrap:

11 Riskiest, Priciest Movie Gambles This Fall, From 'Venom' to 'Mary Poppins Returns'

Michael Nyqvist, 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' Star, Dies at 56

Lakeith Stanfield Apologizes for 'Offensive Freestyle' Video's Homophobic Rap Lyrics

'The Crown' Producers Apologize to Stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith Over Pay Gap 'Media Storm'

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Review: Claire Foy Is the Best Lisbeth Salander Yet in a Sequel Too Muddled to Leave Its Own Mark

Filmmaker Fede Alvarez’s first foray into Stieg Larsson’s complex mythology boasts a revelatory new leading lady, but the story sinks under its own overwrought weight.

Lisbeth Salander is no longer anonymous. Much as the secretive hacker would like to stay out of the spotlight, the latest on-screen incarnation of Stieg Larsson’s franchise-spawning literary anti-heroine opens with Lisbeth (Claire Foy) enacting her own kind of revenge on a badly behaved man, only for a local news outlet to instantly pin the nefarious deed on her. And yet, in this on-screen incarnation of the series — the third version to hit theaters, the fifth film total — it’s one of many changes made to the girl with the dragon tattoo, who has evolved beyond dead-eyed computer whiz into a slightly more emotional warrior with a real flair for punishing baddies.

Even better, she’s now played by Emmy-winner Foy, who turns in the best on-screen depiction of Lisbeth yet, facing down stiff competition from both original Swedish star Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara.

Read More: ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Official Trailer: Claire Foy Reinvents Herself as Lisbeth Salander

Fede Alvarez’s wholly recast sequel jumps years ahead of the ending of David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” picking up the twisted story after the events of the third book in Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (all of which were adapted into Rapace-starring features). Author Larsson died before his original trilogy was even published, and subsequent Lisbeth-centric novels have been written by David Lagercrantz, including the source material for “Spider’s Web,” which is concerned with Lisbeth’s life after being revealed to the Swedish people as both a prodigious hacker and the kind of woman you don’t want to challenge.

Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) in Columbia Pictures' THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”

Reiner Bajo

Public scrutiny — in Larsson’s last book, Lisbeth went on trial for a trio of murders, it’s hard to get more public than that — hasn’t stopped Lisbeth from wanting to hide, and Foy ably imagines Lisbeth as a tough-talking genius who has gotten increasingly bad at burying her human emotions, a better and richer take on the character than previous incarnation allowed. The film opens with a flashback to Lisbeth’s terrible youth, mostly spent in an icy and sprawling mansion alongside her pale-faced twin sister Camilla. It’s Camilla who idolizes their obviously evil dad (bad people in Lisbeth’s world continue to be transparently bad, no matter how many twists the stories try to pile on), and so when young Lisbeth runs away from home, it’s not a surprise that Camilla chooses to stay behind.

It’s not even that much of a surprise how that choice impacts the pair so many years later, but that doesn’t stop the film’s script (written by Alvarez, Jay Basu, and Steven Knight) from weighing down the story with unnecessary twist after inscrutable contrivance. Lisbeth, for all her visibility, spends most of her time toiling at clandestine operations, so when she’s tasked with retrieving a dangerous piece of computer programming that threatens the safety of the entire world, she jumps at the chance. Created by the skittish Frans Balder (an underused Stephan Merchant), the program is the sort of thing that shouldn’t be in anyone’s hands, let alone the many nefarious organizations gunning for it, from the NSA to the secretive Spider Society. What follow is a cat and mouse (and mouse and mouse and mouse…) game in which it’s strangely difficult to remember who is just who, and why, and how, and for what.

Inevitably, both the NSA and the Spiders come for the nasty tech (and Lisbeth), leading her down a predictably dark path in search of the person pulling the strings. The answer isn’t surprising, but it’s laden with undercooked revelations that muddle the story, misunderstanding that narrative “twists” don’t always result in a “twisted” story. Alvarez’s horror bonafides are mostly muted here, but some of the film’s bigger action setpieces allow the “Evil Dead” director a chance to play, including a heart-pounding early attack on Lisbeth’s home and a final act shoot-em-up packed with clever surprises. Unfortunately, it’s the middle that sags; that’s where “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” loses much of its momentum.

Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks) in Columbia Picture's THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB"

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”

Reiner Bajo

At least the convoluted story allows for the introduction of characters both new and returning, including Sverrir Gudnason as journalist/love interest Mikael Blomkvist, Lakeith Stanfield as an NSA heavy with his own mission, and Sylvia Hoeks as a grown-up Camilla. Still, the contrivances that bring them together become more grating as the film winds on, and at least one of them devolves into a superhero-esque baddie before the film’s final confusing revelations.

It’s Foy, however, that drives the entire film. The actress has already turned in one revelatory film performance this year, thanks to Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” but her turn as Lisbeth is further proof that the full spectrum of her talents have yet to be tapped. Her Lisbeth is more human than she has been in any previous incarnation, though Foy doesn’t add emotion to the mix at the cost of dialing down her character’s more opaque attributes. Lisbeth is never going to be cuddly or sunny, but that doesn’t mean she has to be robotic or impossible to read. That’s something that Foy and Alvarez clearly understand, and the result is a heroine not only worth cheering for, but one worth loving and even understanding.

For once, it’s Lisbeth who traps the audience in her own web.

Grade: C+

Sony Pictures will release “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” in theaters on Friday, November 9.

‘First Man’: Claire Foy Heads for First Oscar Nomination by Shattering the ‘Wife Waiting at Home’ Stereotype

The British actress brings both pragmatism and heart to an understated biopic. Foy tells IndieWire how her “out of the ordinary” subject inspired her and led to a rich role.

ConsiderThis

Claire Foy only really loses it once in Damien Chazelle’s “First Man.” Stuck at home, listening to her husband Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) during yet another test run for his imminent space flight via a squawk box hooked up to NASA’s own feed, Foy’s Janet Armstrong is horrified to discover that her audio has been suddenly switched off. The test has, inevitably, turned rough, and the NASA brass make the executive decision to cut off Janet and the Armstrong family, ostensibly to spare them from any possible trauma.

Janet is not having it. Frantic, she runs out of her house, gets in her car, and drives directly to NASA’s Houston base. There, she unleashes years of rage and frustration at NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler). “All these protocols and procedures to make it seem like you have it under control,” Janet shouts. “But you’re a bunch of boys making models out of balsa wood. You don’t have anything under control!”

Chazelle’s fourth film is understandably occupied with Neil’s mission — and the emotional wounds that fuel both his work and his reserved nature — but Foy’s understated performance serves as a compelling counterpoint to similar “wife waiting at home” stereotypes. “I never had to fight for it, because it was always there in the script,” Foy said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “I didn’t have to feel like I had to stand up for her, or give her a voice, or make that voice known.”

Foy undertook her own research of Janet, who passed away just a few months before the film debuted, and found a brave character as compelling as her famous husband. Early in the film, it’s Janet who assures a nervous Neil that his new gig with NASA “will be an adventure,” a notion she never seems to fear.

“She was sort of slightly out of the ordinary, in a sense that she lived every day on her own terms,” Foy said. “Even though Neil was doing this incredibly dangerous thing, I think she knew early on that she couldn’t be abandoned or left on her own. She had to live her own life in order to be able to stay in that world, in that marriage. She had to make sure that if she was left behind that her and her kids would be okay. She taught swimming, she was incredibly active in the community, and everyone said how much of a wonderful friend she was. She was able to take care of herself.”

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daniel McFadden/Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (9927631k) Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong 'First Man' Film - 2018 A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

“First Man”

Daniel McFadden/Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

While Singer’s screenplay provided a road map for Foy and Gosling’s work, an early rehearsal period with Chazelle allowed them to further shape their characters as they saw fit. “Sometimes, we’d do takes that we were completely on the book, and we’re completely doing the dialogue that was written,” she said. “Other times, we’d be using that as a kind of skeleton to hang on and that would guide our way through a scene, but we would kind of move in and around it.”

The real Janet was very much about communal engagement. In 1964, she founded and helped coach the Texas-based El Lago Aquanauts synchronized swimming team (she’d been a competitive synchronized swimmer in her college years), an achievement only hinted at in the film. “First Man” also doesn’t show Janet helping to form another key group — the KIT (Keep-In-Touch) group of astronauts’ wives — but her ability to support her fellow wives during increasingly tragic times is brought to vivid life by Foy.

In one scene, Janet remains at an astronaut’s funeral to help clean up as an angry Neil stomps off into the night. Later, Janet comforts another heartbroken wife as other members of their community literally turn away from her. At every point, Foy finds Janet’s humanity, and uses its to give the film an emotional center. While some audiences have complained that Chazelle’s film is too cold or reserved, Foy provides the story with its heart — much as the character does for the Armstrong family.

First Man

“First Man”

Universal Pictures

As Neil’s missions become increasingly public, so too do the demands placed on Janet and the pair’s young sons. Reporters take over the Armstrong family’s lawn, a photographer snaps away as Janet and the kids await news about Neil’s latest test, and everyone seems to want a word from Janet, peppering her with questions during one the most stressful time of her life.

Foy knows that experience all too well, as her visibility has grown thanks to her Golden Globe-winning work on the popular series “The Crown” and her transformative role in the upcoming “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

“I connected with Janet’s experience with it, in the sense that I think that the pressure on these women and these families grew and grew and grew to be the image that NASA wanted them and America wanted them to project,” the actress said. “They didn’t want the reality, which was that they were terrified, the majority of the time, their husbands would not come back.”

The actress said she was taken with “Janet’s kind of immediate understanding that she wasn’t going to give them what they wanted, she wasn’t going to play up to it, and she wasn’t going to divulge personal information.” More specifically: “She was very private, and she remained very private, and that takes huge amounts of self-awareness and self-respect to not get drawn into that kind of exposure.”

As Foy readies for a dense awards season, she’s working overtime to stay sane. Asked if she finds it easy to shake off her characters, the Janet Armstrongs and the Lisbeth Salanders and the Queen Elizabeths, and she caught herself. “I find it very easy to go back to my normal—,” she said, and paused. “It’s not a normal life, I mean, but the work stays with me.”

“First Man” is in theaters now.

‘First Man’ Launches With $1.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Universal Pictures’ “First Man” grossed $1.1 million in previews on Thursday from 2,850 theaters.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $15-18 million, with independent trackers pushing their expectations up to $20 million. In comparison, Tom Hanks’ “Bridge of Spies” took in $600,000 before it grossed $15.4 million its opening weekend. “Deepwater Horizon” earned $860,000 and finished with $20.2 million. “Arrival” grossed $1.4 million in previews before earning $24 million its opening weekend.

“First Man” is the followup for director Damien Chazelle after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “La La Land” last year, with Ryan Gosling from his “La La Land” team joining him.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

Based on James R. Hansen’s detailed recounting of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, “First Man” stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong and delves into the personal life and inner mind of the famous yet very reserved astronaut, particularly how the death of his infant daughter impacted him. Claire Foy also stars as Armstrong’s wife, Janet. Josh Singer, who co-wrote “Spotlight” and “The Post,” penned the screenplay.

Produced for $60 million, “First Man” holds a “fresh” score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“First Man” will face off against Fox’s “Bad Times at the El Royale” and “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” this weekend. The former is set to open in the low-to-mid teens, while the latter is looking at a $14 million opening after taking in $750,000 from 2,993 locations.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

“El Royale” features an ensemble cast including Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and Nick Offerman as a group of individuals who check in to the seedy El Royale hotel on the border of California and Nevada. Soon, secrets are revealed and bullets fly as everything goes horribly wrong.

Drew Goddard wrote and directed the film. It is rated 75 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Goosebumps 2” has Jack Black return to reprise his role as a fictionalized version of Stine, with “It” star Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris and Ken Jeong also starring. Produced for $35 million, “Goosebumps 2” was directed by Ari Sandel and holds a score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

‘First Man’ Lifts Off This Weekend to Steep Box Office Competition

Ryan Gosling Explains His ‘Mild’ Concussion Shooting ‘First Man’ Action Scenes

Universal Pictures’ “First Man” grossed $1.1 million in previews on Thursday from 2,850 theaters.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $15-18 million, with independent trackers pushing their expectations up to $20 million. In comparison, Tom Hanks’ “Bridge of Spies” took in $600,000 before it grossed $15.4 million its opening weekend. “Deepwater Horizon” earned $860,000 and finished with $20.2 million. “Arrival” grossed $1.4 million in previews before earning $24 million its opening weekend.

“First Man” is the followup for director Damien Chazelle after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “La La Land” last year, with Ryan Gosling from his “La La Land” team joining him.

Based on James R. Hansen’s detailed recounting of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, “First Man” stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong and delves into the personal life and inner mind of the famous yet very reserved astronaut, particularly how the death of his infant daughter impacted him. Claire Foy also stars as Armstrong’s wife, Janet. Josh Singer, who co-wrote “Spotlight” and “The Post,” penned the screenplay.

Produced for $60 million, “First Man” holds a “fresh” score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“First Man” will face off against Fox’s “Bad Times at the El Royale” and “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” this weekend. The former is set to open in the low-to-mid teens, while the latter is looking at a $14 million opening after taking in $750,000 from 2,993 locations.

“El Royale” features an ensemble cast including Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and Nick Offerman as a group of individuals who check in to the seedy El Royale hotel on the border of California and Nevada. Soon, secrets are revealed and bullets fly as everything goes horribly wrong.

Drew Goddard wrote and directed the film. It is rated 75 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Goosebumps 2” has Jack Black return to reprise his role as a fictionalized version of Stine, with “It” star Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris and Ken Jeong also starring. Produced for $35 million, “Goosebumps 2” was directed by Ari Sandel and holds a score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

'First Man' Lifts Off This Weekend to Steep Box Office Competition

Ryan Gosling Explains His 'Mild' Concussion Shooting 'First Man' Action Scenes

‘First Man’ Review: Damien Chazelle & Ryan Gosling Land Another Triumph

Damien Chazelle proves himself to be one of the more versatile directors around, following Oscar-nominated hits like Whiplash and La La Land by tackling a completely different genre — outer space — and succeeding admirably in bringing the s…

Damien Chazelle proves himself to be one of the more versatile directors around, following Oscar-nominated hits like Whiplash and La La Land by tackling a completely different genre — outer space — and succeeding admirably in bringing the story of Apollo 11’s first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, to life in the appropriately titled First Man. As I say in my video review above, this area is not new to Hollywood and has been favorably filmed with such Best Picture nominees…

Sony’s ‘The Girl In The Spider’s Web’ To Premiere At Rome Film Festival

Sony’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy as iconic punk heroine Lisbeth Salander, is due to get its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival (Oct 18 -28), which revealed its lineup today.
Director Fede Alvarez, The Crown star Foy and ad…

Sony's The Girl in the Spider's Web, starring Claire Foy as iconic punk heroine Lisbeth Salander, is due to get its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival (Oct 18 -28), which revealed its lineup today. Director Fede Alvarez, The Crown star Foy and additional key cast are due to attend the premiere. Sony has set a Nov. 9 U.S. release for the anticipated latest instalment in the Millenium book series which will see computer hacker Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist…

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ With Claire Foy to Premiere at Rome Film Festival

Sony’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” starring Claire Foy as avenging heroine Lisbeth Salander, is set to world-premiere at the Rome Film Festival, which announced a strong lineup Friday mixing crowd-pleasers with esoteric titles. The festival also bo…

Sony’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” starring Claire Foy as avenging heroine Lisbeth Salander, is set to world-premiere at the Rome Film Festival, which announced a strong lineup Friday mixing crowd-pleasers with esoteric titles. The festival also boasts an impressive roster of speakers who will hold onstage conversations, including Martin Scorsese, Sigourney Weaver and […]