David Fincher’s masterly re-telling of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a knockout.

David Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO begins so simply. A snowy landscape and a ringing phone. A call between two men about the arrival of another seemingly innocent picture of flowers but one that’s sent to torment the receiver. And then suddenly you’re thrust into the most stunning credits sequence of recent memory. With a glorious cover version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song blasting out and already used cleverly in the teaser trailer, you’re presented with an increasingly frenzied collection of the most beautiful and disturbing set of images. They reminded me both of the opening credits of Se7en and that as the director has Bond as one of his leads, embracing the darkness of the story to follow with an almost 007-like homage. It also sets up that what you’re about to watch is as far away from Ian Fleming as you could possibly imagine.

Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist

So when you catch your breath, you’re then slowly and inexorably drawn into a story as dark and fascinating as you could wish for – a girl disappeared 40 years ago and her grandfather has since searched tirelessly for her, coming to the conclusion that she was murdered that day. And every year since, her killer reminds him of this fact by sending him the aforementioned picture on the girl’s birthday.

But he can no longer shoulder this knowledge alone and so he enlists a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who has recently been publicly disgraced for reporting inaccurately on a story but who the grandfather believes is the man to discover the truth. But before approaching the journalist, a background check has to be undertaken on him by the most gifted and unconventional researchers you ever could find – Lisbeth Salander, otherwise known as The Girl WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

These two characters don’t meet on screen for an hour but by the time they do, we’ve seen enough of their individual lives to know that perhaps only together can they find not just this killer but also a way to exist in this world. From their meeting, you’re soon deep inside not just one possible murder and that 40 year old mystery but a labyrinthine collection of killings that seem to be the work of a serial killer of women – something avenging angel Lisbeth is keen to solve.

Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander

What a story, what a brace of fascinating characters and what an extraordinary reimagining by director David Fincher of Stieg Larsson‘s already incredibly successful novel. With a palette of black, white and grey, he presents you with a world and a group of people as cold as the Swedish countryside in which its all set. With a pounding, killer soundtrack by The Social Network‘s Oscar winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and pacing that’s relentless, the 2 hours 38 minutes running time seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

Finally, a review of this film can’t exclude comment on the 2 lead performances – Daniel Craig‘s portrayal as Blomkvist is of an honest, ordinary man with a keen intellect and a terrier-like tenacity but as an actor, he seems so beautifully relaxed, luxuriating in the opportunity that this part gives him that makes it a total pleasure to watch; and Rooney Mara‘s performance as Lisbeth is difficult to describe, because you feel you’ll run out of superlatives. After her wonderful cameo in The Social Network, she was certainly one of the least known actresses up for the role but she is remarkable in it. This is a part that requires no vanity and total immersion into its physical and mental demands and she delivers 200%. Awards should follow.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is very strong material but it’s told in a fantastically unflinching manner. This is exemplary film-making and I urge you to see it.