Final Film in Nolan’s Trilogy Delivers
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012/IN THEATERS) Even before the horrific events in Aurora, Colorado last Friday at midnight, I had already been worried by the previews and general chatter on the net surrounding TDKR. I am a big fan of the previous two films in the series—Batman Begins and The Dark Knight—and have seen each of those movies more times than I’m willing to admit. Still, for this one, the villain Bane looked massive and truly horrible, and the idea that Batman’s back would be broken in the film felt like something I would not like to see. But you have to give it up to Christopher Nolan and also Christian Bale, who have finished their masterful trilogy in fine form. This movie brings the story full circle, returning to many of the critical elements from Batman Begins, including multiple story ties to Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neason appears in a brief cameo). As it turns out, Bane (well played by Tom Hardy behind that intimidating mask) is part of the League of Shadows though he has been expelled–the reason for his expulsion will be revealed by the end of the movie. Despite this or perhaps because of it, he is determined to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s goal of destroying Gotham as part of the League’s mission to attack modern corruption. Eight years have passed since the ending of The Dark Knight in which Batman silently agreed to take the fall for Harvey Dent. Dent is now a hero of the city that has enacted tough laws against crime and criminals in his name. Gary Oldman is back as Police Commissioner Jim Gordon who perpetuates the Dent lie but is bothered by his duplicity. Bruce Wayne (a truly masterful Bale) has become a recluse, holed up in his mansion with only Alfred (Michael Caine, perfect as always) for company. He uses a cane and walks with a noticeable limp, souvenirs of his crime-fighting life as Batman. Morgan Freeman is also back as Lucius Fox, heading up Wayne Enterprises which is no longer the profit-making machine of its past. Director Christopher Nolan who co-wrote this screenplay with his brother Jonathan (as they did for the previous films) gives us three new characters this time, the best two being Joseph Gordon Levitt as Detective John Blake, an orphan who identifies with Bruce Wayne, and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, a slinky cat burglar with seemingly no morals remaining.
Marion Cotillard also appears as Miranda Tate, a rich executive who is tapped to lead Wayne Enterprises in its development of the world’s only clean energy nuclear product. The plot takes a number of twists and turns (and surely you’ve read the Spoilers by now) but what really worked for me in the film were the performances of the main characters and of course, the action. The film is dark and the crazy lightness that Heath Ledger’s Joker brought to TDK is totally missing. It’s also long but it’s hard to see where Nolan could have made any cuts. Is TDK better? Perhaps. There have been complaints about the storytelling (as muddled) or the confusing timelines (the film does jump around a bit), but I think it is a fitting end and perfect for the trilogy. Kudos to all concerned.