To say that Christopher Nolan set the bar very high for himself when it came to “The Dark Knight Rises” would be an understatement. How do you follow the most successful superhero film of all time? Not just on a performance-based level, but on story-telling as well?
The answer, for the most part, is “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Nolan and his brother Jonathan take us back to Gotham for the final time, eight years after the events that concluded “The Dark Knight.” Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is locked away in mourning of his lost love Rachel, and was forced to give up the mantle after he took the blame for the death of Harvey Dent.
Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has helped convince the Mayor to sign the Dent Act, an act that has nearly cleared the streets completely of crime. However, peace cannot last forever. What starts as a Cat burglar stealing finger prints turns into much, much more.
Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), a monolith of a man whose face is hidden by a mask that makes him immune to pain, and who claims to be “Gotham’s Reckoning.” He is the incarnation of Joker’s plan of “a world without rules,” and although Wayne gave up crime fighting a long time ago, he must put his emotional pain aside and once again become Batman.
Once again, Bale’s performance is phenomenal. There’s something in his eyes that shows the pain and sacrifice Wayne has made since he gave up being Batman. It’s clear that although he gave it up, it’s not because he wanted to, it was because he had to.
Gary Oldman and Michael Caine reprise their roles as Commissioner Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. Oldman plays his character one again with quiet brilliance and Caine’s performance is better than ever.
However, one of the film’s best aspects are the new cast members. Anne Hathaway is nearly perfect as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman.
Joseph Gordon –Levitt plays hot-headed Gotham City cop John Blake, a character not just new to Nolan’s universe, but to the Batman universe entirely. His character is perhaps my favorite in the entire trilogy.
Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a backer of Wayne Enterprises, and Hardy as Bane.
While I think it is unfair to compare his performance Heath Ledger’s in “The Dark Knight,” Hardy turns his character into the terrifying terrorist he truly is. The old saying “if looks could kill…” comes to mind.
The film’s action is elevated to a new level in this concluding chapter of Nolan’s saga. In the previous entries, it seems as if no matter what, Batman could defeat the enemy. It was a controlled chaos. This time around, Nolan throws away all sense of comfort and plunges Gotham City into a complete chaos that perhaps not even Batman can save. The action is extremely well shot and is written in a very Dickensian way, featuring several allusions to the classic novel “A Tale of Two Cities.”
The film’s biggest flaw is that, at times, the story telling is clunky. Whereas, in Nolan’s previous two films, the storytelling and action were balanced well, this time out, it felt as if Nolan understood the pressure on him and traded in some of the smooth story development for solid action and ways to wrap the trilogy up. It is a very full circle moment when a near-broken Bruce Wayne says “I’m not fearful, I’m angry,” a line which he said when he first downed his cape and cowl as The Dark Knight in “Batman Begins.”
Overall, I believe Nolan delivered the best conclusion to the trilogy that he possibly could. This trilogy will surely go down as one of the best in film history and will someday find its spot in the archives next to the “Lord of The Rings” and the original Star Wars trilogy.
Although it lagged in some parts, the last 45 minutes of the film sum up Nolan’s Batman universe: brutal, real, and at times, heartbreaking. Nolan is truly one of the best filmmaker’s today, and I feel bad for whoever Warner Brother’s taps to take up the mantle of rebooting the Caped Crusader.
The movie is rated 4.5 out of five stars.