Wednesday, August 22, 2012
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
When last we saw Batman (Christian Bale) he had accepted blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes, allowing Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to use the late District Attorney’s reputation to clean up Gotham’s streets. Today corruption seethes beneath the city’s clean surface. Gordon feels guilt pangs, Bruce Wayne remains recluse, and Batman has disappeared. After League of Shadows alum Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked fascist with a cult-like following, initiates a series of attacks, Batman comes out of retirement. Cat burglar Selina (Anne Hathaway) steals Wayne’s fingerprints, leading to a fiscally fatal stock trade that bankrupts Wayne Enterprises. Meanwhile Bane mines Gotham with explosives to bring the populace to its knees. This brutal assault leaves Batman broken at the bottom of a pit, Gordon in the hospital, and much of the police force either trapped under the city or in hiding. Only newly-promoted detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) remains free to lead a counterinsurgency. In this final film of his Batman trilogy director Christopher Nolan (who wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan) continues to explore post-9/11 themes in a thought-provoking and thrilling entertainment. THE DARK KNIGHT showed us society’s response to chaos and terror in the guise of The Joker, while this film asks us to ponder a choice between authority and anarchy. In sync with Nolan’s singular vision Bale delivers another complex, compelling performance, while regulars Michael Caine (as Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (as Wayne’s technological guru, Fox) provide top-notch support. Hathaway works well as the amoral Catwoman, and Gordon-Levitt succeeds as the film’s relatable moral compass. Marion Cotillard gets too little screen time as Miranda, a board member who shields Wayne Enterprises from takeover, and Hardy creates an indelible villain in spite (perhaps because) of his hidden face. Despite its often bleak worldview Nolan’s film ends on a hopeful note and hints at a continuing story. Though Nolan claims this is his last Batman film, I can’t imagine anyone but him duplicating this impressive achievement.