Christopher Nolan’s final installment of the Batman trilogy is dark, apocalyptic, and gripping from the off.
The unfortunate townsfolk of Gotham have had eight peaceful years since The Batman (Christian Bale) fled, unfairly blamed by the authorities for the death of legendary D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The Dark Knight Rises shows a thoroughly worse for wear Bruce Wayne, a hermit inside his mansion, with only the loyal Alfred (Michael Caine) for company. But when Wayne’s World of recluse is disturbed by a sexy cat burglar (Anne Hathaway), who mysteriously steals his fingerprints and warns of an approaching storm, things start to look bleak once again for the beleaguered Gothamites, in desperate need of a saviour.
A hulking ‘baddy’ named Bane (Tom Hardy) wearing a non-negotiable metal mask and killer coat, with his army of underground followers are about to hold the city hostage with a nuclear bomb capable of a total Gotham wipe out. “Born in hell”, Bane is stronger, meaner and absolutely ruthless and his actions force The Batman out of retirement and into a swish, new airborne Batmobile in an attempt to save the day.
Although you’ll have seen similar race-against-time-to-diffuse-the-bomb plots before, Nolan’s storytelling is complex (perhaps a little too so) and frenetic from the start and appears to be more of a comment on society than his previous Batman offerings. There are some wonderfully inventive subplots, including Wayne’s seclusion in a savage middle-eastern prison and the kangaroo courts of Bane’s new regime in Gotham.
Bale brings an element of maturity and depth to his dual role, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt stands out as the young cop with an unfaltering moral compass, who believes in The Batman like God. As for Hardy, it was never going to be a laugh following Heath Ledger’s iconic, insane Joker but, like the Australian, he creates a villain who is disturbing and engaging in equal measure – an art first perfected by Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal.
There is little wrong with the film’s plot – slightly too much time spent on the shenanigans of the Wayne Enterprises Boardroom perhaps – but Nolan does tie-up a number of loose ends so, unlike the original Dark Knight, the third installment doesn’t work particularly well as a stand-alone. Those [fools] who missed Batman Begins will be puzzled by the appearance of a goateed Liam Neeson in a flashback and frequent references to a guru named Rasul and his League of Shadows (which hardened comic book dweebs will surely love).
This is not a film for which it is remotely acceptable to shrug and wait for the DVD release. The Dark Knight Rises is less bat, more dragon-like in its ferocity; a phenomenal, fast-paced blockbuster of a hit that deserves the big screen and your full, uninterrupted attention.
The Dark Knight Rises is showing at cinemas worldwide now.
Text: Dan Kilpatrick