Despite an early stumble in his career with “Alien 3,” director David Fincher has since rebounded and is considered one of the best directors working today. He has directed such hits as “Fight Club” and “The Social Network,” and with his newest film “Gone Girl,” he delivers yet another compelling mystery thriller.

On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to find that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing. The police are brought in to investigate as the case makes headlines nationwide due to Amy being the inspiration for her parents’ best-selling novels. But as the search goes on, Nick finds himself being tabbed as the prime suspect, as it is revealed that his marriage was not as happy as it seemed.

Those who have not read the book may be surprised by the dark turns this film takes, primarily in the characterization of Amy. She is not really the innocent victim as it may have seemed from the film’s marketing. She is a much more complicated character and it is fascinating to see her undergo this transformation over the course of the film.

Fincher has been known for making dark and pessimistic films, and “Gone Girl” might just be his darkest to date. It is also a biting satire on various aspects of our lives, from the way the media interprets major events, and how they end up influencing society, to the effects that the economy can have on a marriage. It is all thanks to a smartly written and darkly comic screenplay by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the novel the film was based on.

As one would expect from a David Fincher film, “Gone Girl” is well-shot and immediately pulls the audience into the story. Even though it is nearly three hours long, it holds your interest from beginning to end. It seems like the film is faithful to the book right down to the controversial ending, which was rumored to have been changed by Flynn for the film so that it would not be spoiled for those who have not read the book.

“Gone Girl” also benefits from a pitch-perfect cast that is highlighted by its two leads. As Nick, Ben Affleck gives the best performance of his career to date in a role that he was perfectly cast in, given how much media scrutiny he has faced his entire career. But really, this film belongs to Rosamund Pike in the role of Amy. It is a complicated and multi-layered role and Pike really handles it brilliantly.

Backing up Affleck and Pike is a phenomenal supporting cast that includes Neil Patrick Harris playing against type as one of Amy’s ex-boyfriends, Tyler Perry as Nick’s attorney, and Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as the two cops handling the case of Amy’s disappearance.

“Gone Girl” is, in some ways, a very messed-up movie. It is much darker than one might expect given the film’s marketing campaign. Then again, this is a David Fincher film, so the fact that this movie ended up being a very dark and occasionally brutal mystery thriller isn’t all that surprising. At the same time, it is also a fascinating look into the psyche of the character of Amy and a darkly comic satire on the media and troubled marriages.

All of this makes “Gone Girl” one of the best films of the year. It may not be Fincher’s absolute best film, but it is another great entry in his prestigious filmography.