Reviewing this film, from here on called TDKR, is a tricky task, a film that basically succeeds despite a huge amount of disappointment. Therefore I decided to review it while drunk so I could step outside the hype and look at it through a haze of whiskey and poorly attempted Bane impressions. Read on and let me know if any of my rambling resonates with you. Be prepared for borderline crazy, half thought intrerpretations that only someone inebriated could produce. But above all have a think about it.
Coming off the popular and critical success of The Dark Knight, mainly because the film was fucking bad-ass to put it mildly, was always going to be a difficult task for director Christopher Nolan and he succeeds in some ways. The first thing most reviewers would do is look at the good things about it but I’m slightly hammered so I’ll focus on the negatives. While the TDKR is a very good film, it stops short of greatness in a number of areas. The main one is there isn’t enough Batman. As a grown man who’s only consistent goal in life has been to become Batman, this is a huge disappointment. Nolan’s idea to set the story 8 years after TDK doesn’t ring true, we haven’t seen Batman at his peak so we’re left with a skinny recluse with dodgy knees that its hard to believe has fallen so far since bringing down the Joker
Filling in the role of the Big Bad is Tom Hardy as Bane, a mercenary best described as Sir Ian McKellen crossed with Darth Vader but built like a brick shithouse. Bane is an anachronistic villain who is both very smart and very frightening. Hardy’s performance could be considered insane but all the better for it, giving him pathos and making him unpredictable. The problem that becomes apparent with Bane is that his plan is vague at best and plain stupid at worst.
For all of Nolan’s grand vision, the plot of the film is basically ‘Bad guy has time bomb, good guy has to stop it’. This might be acceptable in the old Batman show from the 60’s but this is the man who created Inception so becomes somewhat of a let down. There are parts like the fireplace love scene that would look out of place on channel 5, characters that seem like a waste of time (Matthew Modine’s conflicted policeman) and characters that we’d like to see more of (Michael Caine’s Alfred). It’s to Christopher Nolan’s credit that all of the flaws don’t stop TDKR from being a very good movie.
TDKR is the story of an out of action superhero who has to return when a past lie catches up with him. Now we can get to the insane political analogy. Batman and Commissioner Gordon concocted a lie in a desperate attempt to help the greater good. There are shades or Bush and Blair’s Iraq war lies of this and Bane represents the chickens coming home to roost from the war on terror (I told you I thought into this too much). The problem is that the movie doesn’t run with this and Bane’s intentions are far too confusing.
There are many scenes that raise the film above the usual summer blockbuster fare. The fight between Bane and Batman half way through that provokes a true sense of fear for the hero, Catwoman is a very cool addition that wipes a lot of the putrid memory of the Halle Berry effort, and Christian Bale is fantastic again as the driven vigilante posing as a billionaire playboy.
After a few viewings you get the sense that Nolan raised the bar too high with the previous films and that this one was always fighting a losing battle. But taken on its own its a movie packed with action, inventive set pieces, a fun script and a memorable villain that maybe become crushed under the weight of its lofty ambitions. Its a picture that provokes discussion about its merits and message but above all its a movie that has produced a million bad Bane impressions. All that’s left is an amazing film in the shadow of it’s immense predecessors. Watch it!