Published Thursday, 19 July 2012
Director Christopher Nolan spectacularly brings the curtain down on his majestic Batman trilogy. But will this grand finale please only the darkest diehards?
Eight years on from the last bat adventure and Bruce Wayne is a recluse and the Dark Knight a fugitive. Batman, once again played with pitch-black intensity by Christian Bale, is living in self-imposed exile. Not even his sentimental manservant Alfred (Sir Michael Caine) can motivate him to leave the house.
But everything is about to change with the arrival in the Wayne household of a cunning cat burglar Selina Kyle played by Anne Hathaway. This cool Catwoman steals the family jewels and Bruce Wayne's pride, which finally awakens him from his slumber. "There's a storm coming Mr Wayne" purrs glamour puss Hathaway "So you and your friends better batten down the hatches".
That storm appears in the monster shape of bulky British actor Tom Hardy as the masked warlord Bane, whose guerilla army is intent in destroying Batman and his beloved Gotham City. Time to don the cape and cowl again. But before the Dark Knight can rise, he must fall, and fall he does to the bottom of a hellish pit. The playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne becomes broke and is quite literally broken in two by Bane. "I'm Gotham's reckoning" growls Bane "I'm a necessary evil". For Batman to once again resurrect, he must fear what he does not, death.
What eventually follows after many twists of fate and turns of the knife is an almighty showdown; Wayne vs Bane with a lot of pain. Christopher Nolan directs the action as only he can on a colossal scale, in one mega scene there are over 10, 000 extras battling it out on the ravaged streets of Gotham City.
If anything, there are too many characters in this last act, with Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Matthew Modine as Deputy Commissioner Foley, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Joseph Gordon-Lewitt as John Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, all fighting for screen time. Nolan's biggest challenge is not only to neatly tie up this film but also all the loose ends from the trilogy too.
This he does expertly and at the end even leaves the door open for maybe another shady adventure?
Unfortunately Bane is no Joker and Tom Hardy far too restrained to repeat the startling Oscar winning performance of the late great Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. The almighty muzzle on Bane's face mutes his menace and muffles his dialogue. Instead of having the threatening presence of Hannibal Lector and the vocal terror of Darth Vadar, Bane is a big hulking gimp whose many mutterings are mainly incomprehensible. To gag a great actor like Hardy in this way is a shame.
The Dark Knight Rises is an epic watch and you are swept away for the 164 minutes in the cinema. But like many trilogies it is not the beginning or the end that is the best, but the middle, think The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight Rises (Cert 12a) is now on general release.