Director: Christopher Nolan
Talent: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Release Date: July 20th
The Dark Knight Rises opens by recapping the laboured chit-chat at the end of The Dark Knight, desperately trying to tie together the contradictory allegory of the previous movies. In the eight years since the Joker’s appearance, Gotham City has been ridden of crime by police powers that legislators apparently only chose to create because a career politician was suspiciously murdered by a man that twice saved millions of people from certain death, previously unmoved by the countless other murders committed in the city all the time. Unsure of that logic? Don’t worry, Nolan’s script will repeatedly remind you that it makes perfect sense.
The whole story exudes this sloppiness. Batman overcomes a number of important obstacles, not by outsmarting or outmaneouvring his opponents, but by believing more or punching harder. In a recent comic book story, Batman creates a backup personality in his own mind to protect himself from psychological torture. In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman escapes a prison by learning to love again (or something). At one point he hatches a plan that simply involves wandering through the streets, brawling until he conveniently finds a guy. It’s lazy, it’s not satisfying, it’s not Batman.
But the real failure of the film lies in its action movie credentials. The film opens with a spectacular set-piece, in the vein of Inception, that establishes and plays with the physics of the scene in panoramic wide-shot while exploring the consequences in tighter detail. It’s astonishing then how lazy the rest of the action becomes. Instead of being treated to fully framed choreography, we get over-the-shoulder shaky-cam fights with goons attacking one-by-one like inept Power Rangers extras. We have CGI car chases in which vehicles move in a straight line under dramatic score until they decide, eventually, to stop. It’s lazy, cynical action by a director that can achieve so much more.
Spending time in Gotham is still fun, but Nolan’s failure to grasp the basics leaves the feeling of an opportunity missed.
Words: Michael Healy