Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine
Release date: July 20th, 2012
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 165 minutes
Best part: Nolan’s direction.
Worst part: The leaps in logic.
With a penchant for achieving both artistic integrity and visceral entertainment with his acclaimed works, Christopher Nolan has now seemingly achieved the impossible. The Dark Knight Rises delivers on its promises, while defying impossible fan boy expectations, to create an over-long yet powerfully affecting conclusion to the Dark Knight Saga.
Set eight years after the Joker’s wrath upon Gotham City and Harvey Dent’s downfall from heroic grace, Gotham is at peace. A crippled Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is torn from its citizens through his own exile. Despite a slinky cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), hot on his trail, Wayne is still determined to rebuild his shattered company, Wayne Enterprises, and restore his family’s honour. But this promise of redemption in the eye of a first world order comes at a powerful price. Under the city, a new evil has crawled to the surface; determined to destroy its hate filled existence. Bane (Tom Hardy), a complex yet threatening psychopath and terrorist leader, leads the strike against Gotham’s democratic order. His thirst for destruction plunges the city into darkness, drawing the controversial yet hailed caped crusader out of the shadows to end Bane’s destruction of Gotham’s integral infrastructure.
Nolan has created an influential, thrilling and poignant tale of good and evil set in the confines of a city under siege. His vision is ever changing, blending together fantastical and realistic elements in an organic fashion. Nolan’s unique and constantly evolving style has developed a balance between dystopian crime-drama and artistic action cinema. The Dark Knight Rises is definitely the most formalist instalment in this already revered saga, as the grand scale of this epic masterpiece creates the climactic struggle for democracy within Gotham’s soul. This is a powerful story created by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, crossing the boundaries of modern blockbuster cinema through emotional depth, a relevant thematic structure and a truly involving and epic sense of scale. The thematic and symbolic structure is based on both Nolan’s artistic influences and the relevance of a crumbling democratic society. The destruction of economic and social order, inspired by Metropolis and The Taking of Pelham 123, is carefully examined through Bane’s madness and Catwoman’s desire for a shared socio-economic society. As a symbol of the wealthy elite in peril, Wayne must ultimately face his harshest fears to protect the citizens of Gotham. With Batman Begins symbolising the importance of fear and The Dark Knight questioning the structure of a post 9/11 society through chaos, The Dark Knight Rises creates a crumbled existence based on the relevance of social order.
“We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.” (Bane (Tom Hardy), The Dark Knight Rises).
The personification of all three elements here is Bane. A mythic creature born with a taste for torturous violence and a vision of ‘freedom’ within Gotham City, his violent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ based assault on Gotham’s elite social hierarchy creates a terrifying yet empathetic presence. Immersed in terrifying villainy, similarly to Heath Ledger’s Joker, Hardy is a dramatic and physical force. With a multi-layered muscular structure aiding his cold demeanour, thick accent and thirst for pain, Bane goes toe to toe with Batman, using his tortured soul to create a similar sense of anguish for Gotham’s citizens. Hardy also creates an awe-inspiring menace through brutal fighting ability. His lack of remorse and fierce physical presence creates a truly potent and symbolic battle with Batman, particularly in their first fight sequence featuring beautifully shot and creatively choreographed martial arts. Bale delivers one of his greatest performances here as the emotionally decayed anti-hero figure, particularly through poignant interaction with Michael Caine’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox. Hathaway commands the screen with a much needed ferocity. While Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provide solid turns in important roles close to Wayne’s emotional separation from Gotham’s existence.
Arguably the best trilogy in the history of Hollywood cinema, Nolan has grown as a film-maker through his creation of an emotionally gripping and revered superhero saga. Through this depiction of poignant characterisation, a symbolic visual style and resonant thematic core, this truly is cinema as it’s meant to be.