(out of 5)
It has been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight and we find Bruce Wayne a broken, downtrodden man; physically he is destroyed, financially he is spiraling downward and, on a personal level, he doesn’t quite feel inspired to achieve his level best. He needs to kick-start himself into high gear, however, when the city’s mounting doom that these films have been promising for so long finally hits its apex: there’s a cat burglar with no personality running around in her mother’s high heels (Anne Hathaway) and, more importantly, a monster of a brute named Bane (Tom Hardy) who is out to terrorize the city’s entire population (given how many times bad guys attack people en masse in these films, I’m amazed there isn’t more emigration from Gotham City). Wayne (Christian Bale) now has to somehow save his fledgling corporation from shark-like board members while putting on his batsuit from time to time to keep the bad guy from blowing the whole town up, but not before he gets beaten within an inch of his life about four hundred times. This ultimate climax to the highly enjoyable reboot of the Batman franchise is the most bloated and self-important of the bunch, though that doesn’t mean it is without its delights. The opening sequence aboard a hijacked plane is superb, and lots of action sequences are pulled off with the smooth perfection that made the second film so good. Downsides are a washout performance from Hathaway who makes one beg for the return of Michelle Pfeiffer; Catwoman is supposed to be morally unpredictable but with someone as safe as the Princess Diaries in the role you have no doubt she will always do the right thing. She’s not the film’s biggest disappointment though, as what really mars it is the unimpressive blowhard of a villain; where Heath Ledger’s Joker took perverse glee in the terror he caused, and showed us a dark side of the soul that brought the movie far above others of its kind, here Bane is merely a violent brute, inarticulate in a mask that keeps us from understanding what he is saying most of the time (why they wasted their time hiring an actor as articulate as Hardy for the role when it could just as easily be anybody behind that thing is beyond me). The inclusion of elements of the time’s financial crisis make for a thicker experience than this sort of movie often offers, but also contributes to its confused tone: long conversations about capitalism and morality seem somewhat at odds with plotting that indulges in the kind of fancy that only superhero movies can get away with (if someone breaks your back, a few crunches and believing in yourself will make you right as rain in no time!) Try not to take it too seriously, which by the time of the release of the third film is rare, and you’ll have a good time.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Cinematography by Wally Pfister
Music by Hans Zimmer
Costume Design by Lindy Hemming
Film Editing by Lee Smith