The Dark Knight Rises may well be the most anticipated film in the past 10 years – and with great anticipation comes great responsibility. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan’s rousing and sensational conclusion to a franchise that has perpetually dared to dream bigger, satisfyingly delivers. Intellectually stimulating and explosively entertaining, this grand finale shocks and awes in ways audiences may not suspect (or quite frankly, appreciate).
After eight years of tranquility in Gotham city – due to the fraudulent myth that Harvey Dent symbolized integrity and justice – havoc is beginning to arise. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, hiding away in his grandiose mansion since Dent’s death. While initially unwilling, Batman eventually (out of pure necessity) resurfaces to save his city from a deeply psychologically disturbed antagonist, Bane (Tom Hardy).
Bane is set on freeing the citizens of Gotham and the criminals locked up due to the Dent act from all authority – primarily Government and the police force run by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).
Added to the mix in this third feature is Catwoman, a dangerously sexy thief played by Anne Hathaway. Also included is a young, hotheaded detective (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on the side of Batman and the Commissioner. Marion Cotillard plays an investor who ends up having to control Wayne enterprises when things go awry for the playboy billionaire.
Nolan’s recreation of the Batman comics has always relied on the maliciousness of its villain. Bane, played with deep and dark depth by Tom Hardy, is a man (unlike the Joker) whose motives for destruction are clear. Him, along with his increasingly gaining army located in the sewers of Gotham, are here to complete Ra’s Al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) mission of destruction before true civilization.
At nearly three hours, TDKR throws a whole lot at its audience. Then again, convolution is to be expected for a third and final film that has a prerequisite to tie subplots together coherently. From receiving a bevy of new characters with their respective back-stories, to an overall sense that our knight in shining armor may not be through after this film. Still, a lot of the material can be deemed inconsequential – reaffirming the sentiment that (to a certain degree) these films are made to appease the fanboys that would bow down in the presence of meeting Christopher Nolan.
Everything we’ve come to value about this depiction of Batman is still intact: a harrowing and eerie formulation of Gotham city, riveting action sequences that have us on the edge of our seats, and a protagonist that against all odds understands what he must do.
The Dark Knight Rises accentuates the terror from Bane by pitting Batman against an opposition that is seemingly unbeatable. It’s in the face of defeat that we see our hero’s soul being tapped into. His need for doing right, countering against a general public that found him responsible for the death of Dent, makes the exploration of Batman’s morality all the more captivating.
Which brings me to what this film inherently represents. I believe Nolan has conceived something that deserves to be classified as something more than just another superhero trifle. This is a bloody drama – psychically and psychologically – with ramifications that can only be viewed through the lens of reality.
Indirect or not, The Dark Knight Rises paints a picture where a terrorist regime takes over a city, where social outcry is prevalent, and where freedom has turned into hundreds and thousands of people running around the streets of Gotham shooting and stealing from one another. It begs the question, how would we respond to an attack like this?
Like its predecessors, this finale treats every facet of the material with sincerity and respect. We’ve discussed how Nolan – time and time again – attempts to make a film that rises above the common vacuous superhero film.
With The Dark Knight Rises, the dexterous Christopher Nolan has managed to create a stirring and scintillating epic that captures our immediate attention, challenges our constantly evolving imagination, and questions even the far corners of our vast intellect.