Madame Web fails to ensnare

Film review of Madame Web. Picture: ON FILE

By Seth Lukas Hynes

Madame Web

Starring Dakota Johnson, Tahar Rahim and Sydney Sweeney

Rated M


Madame Web is a bland, tedious, often irritating superhero film.

Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson), a withdrawn New York paramedic, develops clairvoyant powers after an accident and must protect three teenage girls from a superpowered killer.

The fourth film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (following the sloppy but fun Venom films and the atrocious Morbius), Madame Web is a boring superhero caper and an unappetizing teaser for future movies.

While Johnson plays her role with gusto, Cassie is a very prickly, rude protagonist, and her development consists solely of learning her past (which we already knew from the very start of the movie) and stepping up to protect the girls. Strip away the snark, and Cassie has hardly any personality.

The aforementioned girls are also thinly-developed, and Celeste O’Connor is intensely unlikeable as Mattie Franklin.

Tahar Rahim is rarely intimidating as the villain Ezekiel Sims, and his quest to kill the girls before they kill him in the future carries little weight when you don’t care much about his targets.

Moreover, the brief glimpses of them as spider-themed superheroes just makes us want to see that movie instead.

Madame Web is slow, lurching and contrived, and full of clunky dialogue and blunt exposition.

The portrayal of Cassie’s clairvoyance early on is tense and unsettling, but the action (save for some cool moments) is flat and fleeting. The climax achieves two feats I thought were impossible: making a final battle with fireworks look washed out, and making the way Cassie saves the day look like a rubbish Deus Ex Machina despite it being established (with heavy-handed dialogue) earlier in the film.

This review allows you to foresee and avoid this unexciting, annoying superhero dud, which is playing in most Victorian cinemas.