Move review: The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan wraps up his run on Batman with the most daring on-screen punishment the Bat could ever take.
Nothing here is rushed. No moment of the film feels out of place or unworthy, and at over two and a half hours, the film could have been even longer.
But Nolan knows his audience. As difficult as it is to maintain the status of a working artist and please the summer blockbuster crowd, Nolan hits his mark. He ties up his arc on the Batman storyline in a tour de force that delivers as much punishment to its hero as it does to its audience.
But not before an array of newcomers hit the streets of Gotham, which Nolan introduces meticulously and interweaves their narratives seamlessly. The film’s villain, Bane, is played by a bulked up Tom Hardy. Hardy’s Bane poses a new threat, one of physical dominance, to Batman, Christian Bale donning the cowl again. And Bane, much like the Joker, loves to cause chaos.
Hardy is joined by other newbies Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, a Gotham City police officer and Anne Hathaway as the most lovely, fearsome Catwoman. Marion Cotillard stars as well, as Miranda Tate, a mysterious woman who aids Bruce Wayne by working with Wayne Enterprise. Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine are all back as well.
Eight years have passed since the “The Dark Knight,” and Bruce has become a haggard and crippled shut-in.
At a charity party Wayne has at his house for Harvey Dent, who since his death legislation involving criminals and a holiday have been named after him, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) appears.
Bale and Hathaway have an undeniable charm to them, and Hathaway is the perfect foil to Bale’s Batman. She’s a rule breaker, a thief, and she is gorgeous. Wayne reminds her several times of the good within her he knows she is capable of, but it is never clear whose side Catwoman is really on.
But Catwoman is only a petty criminal. She is afraid of Bane. And Bane makes all of Gotham, and the world watching, afraid of him. Bane’s goal is to destroy Gotham, and he does so in a formidable scene that all at once cuts off access to Gotham City and traps the police in the sewers.
At times Hardy’s dialogue as Bane is daunting. The mask is somewhat encumbering but necessary. All the main players in Gotham wear masks, figuratively or literally.
Nolan and brother Jonathan wrote the script for “Rises,” and the two dared to manipulate the equation. Besides bringing an intense, unnerving return of the Batman, the Nolans write him out of most of the script. We see Gotham, cold, searching for a hero. And we see the rise of ordinary heroes as well as the Dark Knight.
Wayne explains Batman could be anyone. He wanted to embody a symbol. And when Batman returns to Gotham to challenge Bane, after an initial backbreaking encounter with him, and Hans Zimmer’s dark, pounding drums are blaring, this is the moment. This is when it has never been more fulfilling to watch the hero redeem himself and his city.