The question of course is, does “The Dark Knight Rises” live up to the hype? Absolutely. Christopher Nolan has maintained his intensity of focus and delivered a serious, dark, engagingly exciting movie. As everyone by now knows, it’s the end of his trilogy. Bane, the (weakest) nemesis is another masked man, wearing an appendage that suggests he’s a quasi-human thing that’s not quite of this world and hasn’t as yet worked out how to process oxygen into his lungs. He rounds out the trilogy by being the last member of the League of Shadows, that tribe of anarchists we first met with Liam Neeson; and –natch – he’s out to destroy Gotham, for which I guess we should read the world/western civilization… or America as the Americans would like us all to think.
We first encounter Bruce Wayne as Howard Hughes type recluse, bent and walking like an octogenarian with a cane. Batman has been blamed for the death of Harvey Dent (Nolan presumes, accurately I assume, that we’d all have seen the last movie where Harvey Dent wasn’t the heroic chief of police the deluded Gothamites believed but the dastardly Two-Face) and, in a two-fingered gesture to Gotham, has retired from crime-fighting
It’s Bruce Wayne’s discovery of a cat burglar, Anne Hathaway as the breath-taking Cat-Woman, that seems to peak his interest enough to begin to ease his physical pain and self-imposed imprisonment. For much of the movie, Batman (or the Batman as he’s referred to) manages to miraculously recover from being kicked, dropped from heights and stabbed, with incredible ease. Must be a bat-power type thing. Such recoveries all seem a bit far-fetched for a movie that takes itself so seriously. But the recovery from being an 80 year old cripple to a muscled 30 something after meeting Anne is, well, something I could well imagine.
Nolan uses Cat-Woman in a variety of ways, apart from being the jolt that Bruce needs. She’s a choric figure who lectures the billionaire Bruce. “There’s a storm coming…” she says, channeling the 99% against the 1%. She warns that all the people like him who have left so little for the poor and have taken so much for themselves, will soon be facing a reckoning.
And it comes in the guise of Bane whose attacks on the city are visualized not just by the dramatic destruction of the arteries that feed into the city (its many bridges) but by his ravaging of the wealthy. We see them being kicked out of their luxury apartments, as Bruce himself is from his extensive Wayne Manor.
But Bruce isn’t kicked out by force, rather it’s by the same sort of complicated financial maneuvers (master-minded by one of Bane’s white collar cohorts) that have kicked millions out into the streets in the real world. The indifferent and decadent 1%, cocooned into a belief that their status quo of wealth would never end, is replaced by another 1% – of pure evil.
It’s as though, Nolan seems to be suggesting, they’re one and the same thing.
The movie’s long – over 2 and ½ hours; and the central segment, when financial chicanery takes center stage, drags it down a bit. But once the Batman is back in fighting mode, armed with his incredible flying, riding machines (“it’s not a car,” he tells Cat-Woman), Nolan finally segues away from his high-minded morale’s and gets back to some nice low-kicking action.
As to the hype that the last of the trilogy sees the death of Batman, I won’t spoil the party by revealing anything. But, there is a nice little soupcon of delight when we’re introduced to Robin. Just another thing to look forward to.