David Fincher's sensibilities as a director have always been piercing and intuitive, but with this remake of the 2009 Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher pours every ounce of his modus operandi into Stieg Larsson's story of a troubled and brilliant girl named Lisbeth (Rooney Mara). As an unwilling ward of the state, Lisbeth's path intertwines with investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) after she performs an elaborate background check on him for a wealthy Swedish magnate named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer).
Vanger's wish for Mikael to figure out which member of his family killed his niece, Harriet (Moa Garpendal), comes at an ideal time for Mikael, who has recently been sued and publicly embarrassed for what the media perceives as libelous statements about a billionaire businessman named Wennerstrom (Ulf Friberg). With this new opportunity, Mikael is allowed the chance to hide from the disgrace surrounding him in Stockholm, leaving his co-editor (and adulterous paramour), Erika Berger (Robin Wright, who will never be as good as she was in The Princess Bride), in charge of damage control. Although Mikael doesn't realize it until he arrives on the island where Henrik lives, he may have been safer from scrutiny in Stockholm.
In spite of Fincher constantly being associated with his days as a music video director, he has come a long way from the style of such a brief medium. Plus, his music videos always had an air of the cinematic (specifically his collaborations with Madonna on "Express Yourself," "Vogue," "Oh Father," and "Bad Girl"). But the only trace of the music video director within him is the opening sequence of the film as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' (who also worked with Fincher on The Social Network) musical partnership sets the tone for the sinister air of the film.
The length of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo echoes the thoroughness that David Fincher's 2007 film, Zodiac, possessed. Of course, screenwriter Steven Zaillian--no stranger to the action genre, as evidenced by a resume that consists of Mission: Impossible, Gangs of New York, and The Interpreter--is also a key ingredient to the final product, as he adapted the novel with a fair amount of faithfulness and precision. What is more, Fincher's familiarity with directing adaptations (e.g. Fight Club and The Social Network) is an important element of his repertoire in that it has enabled him to conscientiously recreate a story with such a vast and loyal following.