STARRING: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway,
Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman
2012, 165 Minutes, Directed by:
over Avengers. This is how you do a superhero movie!
The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale
create an epic capstone to their Batman trilogy.
It runs two and three-quarters hours but you won’t be checking your watch.
The reason these Batman
films have been outstanding is that for all their thrills and action, they are
first and foremost about character. When the story opens it’s been eight years
since the events of the last film and crime has been cleaned up in Gotham City
thanks to the Dent Law, named for the district attorney turned crazed killer. As
far the public knows, however, Harvey Dent was a hero and the man taking the
blame for his death is none other than the Batman, who hasn’t been seen since.
Meanwhile Bruce Wayne (Bale)
has turned into a recluse, who rejects entreaties from his loyal butler and
friend Alfred (Michael Caine) to move on with his life. What finally shocks him
out of his lethargy is a complicated plot to take over Wayne Industries. He has
asked Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to run things, but it doesn’t quite work
out as he expected. One needn’t pay too much attention to the details, because
all the people being manipulated are doing so for the benefit of Bane (Tom
Hardy), an unstoppable force of evil who plans to “liberate” Gotham City.
" The Avengers was a fun amusement park ride, but The Dark
Knight Rises is a great movie!"
The film is a collection of
broken characters who, like Wayne, have to decide how – or if – they will take
control of their lives.
Commissioner Gordon (Gary
Oldman), has been covering up the truth about Dent and is about to be pushed
aside by the more ambitious deputy commissioner Foley (Matthew Modine). Selena
Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is a thief who uses sex as a weapon and wants to erase her
past. Police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to see justice done
but is increasingly frustrated by the politics and maneuvering in the
Wayne’s problem is that he’s
lost a reason for living. He was unable to rescue the woman he loved (as
recounted in The Dark Knight) and isn’t really
needed to fight crime any more. In fact his reappearance at the Batman leads
Foley to make his capture a top priority. So Wayne needs not only to fight back
but to figure out why he’s fighting back. The script carefully strips away
everything that he has used to define his life, and only then does he understand
what he has to do.
The actors never condescend to
the material. There’s a wry quip here or there, as when both Alfred and Fox
(Morgan Freeman) – the keeper of the Wayne Industries arsenal – try to prod
Wayne out of his funk, but the material is played straight. Everyone is at the
top of their game, from veterans like Caine to younger actors like Hathaway and
Gordon-Levitt, both of whom take the complex characters they are handed and run
with it. While Bale, as the Batman, and Hardy, as Bane, will deservedly get much
of the attention, don’t overlook Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon, who has tried to
the do the right thing and, like Wayne, is filled with regret. The difference is
that Gordon keeps on going.
This is exciting, dramatic and
was a lot of fun, but it was an amusement park ride.
The Dark Knight Rises is a great movie. Nolan’s Batman trilogy
represents the high water mark for costumed hero sagas and one not likely to be
matched anytime soon.