Writer | Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay)
Director | Christopher Nolan
Run-Time | 165 mins
Rating | 12a
Plot | Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Bale) has retired the cowl, and is a recluse. However, when psychotic, muscle-bound terrorist Bane (Hardy) sets his sights on Gotham, Wayne is forced into action once again – perhaps for the final time.
Review | Let us begin at the end – this is not The Dark Knight 2, nor is it a full blown return to Batman Begins, but more of an amalgamation of the two that ties up loose threads from both, and brings this epic trilogy to a fitting close.
Nobody stands out in this film. That is because everyone and everything stands out. From the score, to direction, to cinematography and, of course, performances, this is a tour-de-force of how an emotionally fraught brooding dystopian action-thriller should be.
The acting is superb throughout. Slightly overshadowed in The Dark Kngiht, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne takes centre stage here. This is all about him and his emotional rollercoaster of a journey through anguish and anger. Bale is truly believable in powerful scenes with Michael Caine’s Alfred. The legend has lost none of his touch, and the two share some of the most powerful scenes you will see in cinema this year.
Let’s not for get the rest of the ensemble cast. Tom Hardy is brilliant as Bane. He commands the screen with a presence to rival Heath Ledger’s Joker. However, where the latter revelled (and excelled) in chaotic mania, the former is truly a much more frightening prospect – an intelligent, combative, and utterly realistic leader of a terrorist cell (complete with devoted followers willing and ready for martyrdom).
Anna Hathaway’s Selina Kyle (never reffered to catwoman on screen) is complex, intelligent, and alluring. Whereas Michelle Pfeiffer’s excellent portrayal was infused with sex, Hathaway’s character is deeper and her femme fatale nature is more a by-product that comes naturally that something deliberately aimed for.
Rounding out the principle players are actors familiar to the series or to Christopher Nolan films alike. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) is excellent as fresh-face, idealistic cop John Blake; Marion Cottilard (also Inception) plays a sultry, eco-warrior businesswoman in Miranda Tate; Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return to reprise their roles as James Gordon and Lucius Fox respectively. The supporting ‘extras’ cast includes memorable moments from Nestor Carbonell, Aiden Gillen, Matthew Modine, Brett Cullen, Burn Gorman, Tom Conti and Desmond Harrington – amongst others.
Nolan and Goyer’s story is expertly complemented by Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score and Wally Pfister’s harrowingly beautiful cinematography. The threat to Gotham increases over the film, from small to epic proportions and the scariest part is that it feels inherently realistic. A lot of the technology used by both pro- and antagonists is science fiction only a step or two removed from science fact and that helps to emotionally hook the audience.
The pacing is very good throughout, and the film will never be called boring. In fact, whilst the pace is deliberate, it does feel like – if anything- it could do with another 30 minutes or so to flesh out some of the back story relating to Bane and other antagonists. Still, this is only a very minor gripe amongst a plethora of positives. The action is absolutely top notch and varied, from gritty fight scenes (The first real Bane/Batman stand off is great, and really does show the strengths of the former and the frailties of the later), through James Bond-esque slick sequences (the aeroplane opener), to big budget, high octane chases. Everything has it’s reason and it’s place and nothing feels superfluous.
There is little else that can be said without revealing rather important plot details.
Rest assured, Nolan has pulled it off. This is not The Dark Knight 2, rather where it’s predecessors felt like comic book films brought to life, The Dark Knight Rises is a gritty character piece (Bruce Wayne), that happens to have comic book characters in it, as it just as good – but in a different way.
A near-perfect conclusion to the trilogy.
The Verdict | he Dark Knight was always going to be a tough act to follow, an Nolan has pulled it off. The principles involved in this production are excellent throughout, and this is a fitting end to one of great trilogies in movie history.