The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

When the credits roll at the end of this overlong action epic, it feels like we've just turned the final page of an immersive novel. It takes about an hour to find its stride, but Nolan's final Batman movie is also thunderously complex and entertaining.

It's eight years later, and Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) has allowed the press to create a myth that Batman was a villain. Badly injured, Bruce Wayne (Bale) has become a recluse, tended to by his butler Alfred (Caine). Then a new baddie arrives: Bane (Hardy) is part of the League of Shadows, trained by Bruce's old nemesis Ra's al Ghul (Neeson) to purge the world of human decadence. So Bruce turns to Wayne company boss Lucius (Freeman) to get back in fighting shape, deciding to trust a slippery cat burglar (Hathaway) and a rookie cop (Gordon-Levitt).

From here, the complicated, intensely focused plot encompasses a large number of important characters, portentous dialog (much of Bane's is unintelligible) and massive set pieces that drive the action inexorably forward. The scale of this is so big that it never feels like a fun summer blockbuster: this is a bold, long, very serious film packed with big ideas. It's not a lot of fun, but it constantly provokes us to invest ourselves.

The extended running time gives the actors the time to shine in their roles.

Bale has a terrific worn-out steeliness that feeds into Bruce's internal war: he wants to stay quietly at home, but knows he must take action, whatever the outcome. His interaction with Caine, Oldman, Cotillard and Freeman is packed with layers of jagged subtext. Hardy pulls some surprises out of the hat with Bane, especially in the final act. And Hathaway prowls and purrs through the film, stealing every scene while providing some badly needed levity.

As always, Nolan never simplifies anything, forcing us to work out the story's inter-connections and revelations. He also keeps everything grounded, adding gravity to spectacular action scenes that have very high stakes. Even more haunting are the textured themes gurgling throughout the film, not only Bane's anti-capitalist anarchists, but the more personal issues of family and loyalty that constantly force us to internalise each difficult decision the characters are called to make.


Comments

The Dark Knight Rises Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: 12, 2012

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