The Dark Knight Rises, the final part of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, has Christian Bale on flying form.

Batman the Dark Knight Rises
Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy

UK Theatrical Release Date: July 20th 2012

Rating: 12A

"So we'll hunt him, because he can take it," Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) says at the end of The Dark Knight, as Batman cops the blame for the murder of Gotham's beloved district attorney Harvey Dent. The question is, can he take it?

Looking like a broken man, walking with the help of a cane (rather than a Caine) and hiding himself away in his mansion like a pre-claws Howard Hughes, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) cuts a sorry figure. This, ahem, limp existence is made all the more sad by the fact that he is living in a world that has no more need of him.

Batman has not been keeping his pointy-eared head down because he is wanted for murder, he has been made obsolete by a law passed in honour of the former DA. It turns out The Dent Act has put a real dent into Gotham's organised crime by locking up its most violent prisoners with no chance of parole. Who knew that the man who broke the Bat would turn out to be Two Face?

Wayne's downward spiral is a reverse image of Gotham's rise as a city enjoying its new crime free status. The moneyed classes enjoy the fruits of other people's labour as a modern day social conscience slowly sneaks into the script.

When a feisty cat burglar - with the emphasis on 'cat' - named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) robs him, Bruce is thrust back into the role of detective. And when the trail leads to corporate raiders backed by a deadly mercenary it isn't long before he is flicking through his old wardrobe to see if that black number is still in fashion. It is less The Dark Knight Rises and more Batman Begins (Again).

Unfortunately, the new name in town is Bane and never has a villain had such a Ronseal-style moniker. Neither Batman or Gotham has faced a criminal like this before and this is a city that has been threatened by evil geniuses such as The Scarecrow and The Joker. As smart as he is dangerous, Bane manages to terrorise Gotham while wrapping his actions in socialist ideals. This being an action film, his own personal Occupy Gotham movement turns out to be particularly destructive. You can't help feeling that if the London rioters had seen this film a year ago the High Street they attacked would have been in Mayfair rather than Tottenham.

Is it perfect? No. A lull in the middle drags on slightly too long (although, impressively, that is the only time the film ever reminds the audience it is 164 minutes long). The plot also has a couple of holes that, while not big enough to drive a bus through, could fit a Tumbler after some blasting from its weapons.

That script also has enough twists to need some lengthy exposition. If this was a Michael Bay film the audience would moan that there is too much complicated plotting and not enough big metal things hitting each other. Thankfully, this is a Christopher Nolan film so the action always feels essential rather than forced, the plotting never completely derails the flow of the movie and the characters continue to feel real in a frequently unreal world.

The Dark Knight Rises also ties up the trilogy with references to both former movies and some brilliant character reprisals. In order to tie up threads this well you normally have to be wearing red and blue spandex and go by the name of Spider-Man.

In the end Nolan borrows a phrase from Jack Nicholson's Joker: "If you gotta go, go with a smile." Batman ends. And he does it with a warm smile and an awful lot of heart.


    • Overall: 9/10
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