Another hotly anticipated and ultra-hyped arrival this year, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of his Dark Knight interpretation of Batman. The look and the feel of this concluding part is very similar to previously, with a portentious, doom-laden feel, with few laughs (although there are some to be had).
The villain, this time round, is Bane (Tom Hardy), a mirror-version of the hero, seemingly psychologically damaged in childhood and having turned himself into a supervillain, aided by a mask that ensures he feels no pain. The film’s opening scenes featuring Bane, establishing the extent of his infamy and his ambition, with an extended action sequence that is as impressive as it is original, setting a breathtaking standard for the film to live up to.
We then switch to Gotham City, where the Batman (Christian Bale) has retired from crime fighting, having taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s death (at the climax of the last film), and also having retreated into isolationism as Bruce Wayne. Batman is reviled and Dent (wrongly) lionised due to an extended period of peace given to have been his legacy, although we are told that this has actually been achieved by suspending, or at least severely compromising, due process. Even when Wayne holds a party as a charity fundraiser, he remains unseen and solitary upstairs. This isolation is broken by a crime at Wayne Manor that is directly targeted at him. Then Bane’s appearance makes it clear that the Batman is needed again and Wayne comes back out into the world…
I’ll not go further into the plot – as usual, the less you know in advance, the greater the enjoyment – and concentrate on other things. In addition to Hardy, whose delivery is excellent, sardonic and brutal both, there are several other good roles in support. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jack Blake, a young policeman, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda, a member of Wayne Enterprise’s board who tries to draw Wayne into supporting a clean energy project that he has mothballed for fears it could be weaponised, are both very watchable. Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine reprise their roles from the previous films, and are as good as ever. The most effective new support is from Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle / Catwoman. Hathaway is fine as Kyle but is amazing as catwoman, the perfect incarnation of grace and sensuality coupled with physical violence, though her character is perhaps a little underused.
The plot references both the previous films, calling on both to ensure that there is a real sense that this is bulding to a grand finale which, when it arrives, has a proper sense of grandeur that rounds of the trilogy very satisfyingly. One of the films of the year so far.