Returning to the dark roots of the character, half themovie takes place before the stoic young billionaire even dons the now-bulletproofBatsuit, which Wayne eventually fashions from experimental body-armor builtby Wayne Industries, the war-profiteering conglomerate once owned by hismore altruistic late father.
Played with portentous, anguished magnetism by ChristianBale ("TheMachinist," "AmericanPsycho"), and still haunted by his parents'murder when he was a child, Wayne begins the film the last place Batmanfans would expect -- lost to the world in a Chinese prison after disappearingfrom a crime-gripped Gotham City. But he is sprung from this hoosegow bya shadowy ninja organization with a noble yet unrelenting master (LiamNeeson), who trains Wayne to channel his anger and defeat opponents withsilent deftness and dexterity in beautifully photographed scenes (thinkswordfights on Tibetan glaciers) that pay homage to traditions of the samuraigenre.
Then a staggering betrayal puts Wayne on a path back toGotham -- a vast industrial metropolis in the throes of a modern Depressionand in the grips of the mafia -- with a determination to "turn fearon those who prey on the fearful." Bale and Nolan make their Batmanalmost like a slasher-movie stalker in the eyes of the city's villains,and you feel their panic as he attacks from the shadows or strings a thugupside-down off the edge of a building to interrogate him for informationin a chillingly gravelly voice.
Continue reading: Batman Begins Review
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