Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

The Dark Knight Rises Review

By Dan Horn
July 20, 2012 - 13:36

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has gone into hiding, but a crackdown on crime, resultant of the murders the vigilante took the fall for previously, has ushered in a new era of peace in Gotham City. However, a series of seemingly unconnected crimes, the kidnapping of a nuclear physicist, the murder of a young man, and the lifting of recluse Bruce Wayne's fingerprints from his manor, heralds a new threat, more dire than any Gotham has known before: the masked mercenary known only as Bane (Tom Hardy) and his army of devout killers.

As Bruce (Christian Bale), body and spirit ruined by years of crime-fighting, emerges from his self-exile to track the woman who stole his prints, the cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), he finds himself drawn into a deadly plot, one that necessitates the second coming of his alter ego, Batman. As Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and his new detective John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) scramble to uncover Bane's whereabouts in the sewers of Gotham, Bane's trap is sprung and even Batman may be no match for the relentless killing machine.

The Dark Knight Rises is a ponderous film. The first act of the movie is intelligent, powerful, and intriguing, drawing you ever deeper into its intricate conspiracy; however, the second and final act of the film unravels into something wholly uncharacteristic of the Christopher Nolan-directed franchise thus far. It spirals into sensationalism, becoming a kind of bloodless war film where battle lines are indistinct and the antagonists' impetus is ill-defined. There is an interesting social relevance probed throughout, but it is never truly discussed in a circumspect manner. In effect, this second stanza manages to be simultaneously implausible, incoherent, tedious, and inadvertently campy. The dichotomy of the film creates the feeling that one is watching two completely different, albeit related, movies back-to-back, and the distended length of The Dark Knight Rises bolsters that sensation.

The action sequences in the closing act are similarly uncharacteristic. Action is oddly muted, attaining neither the thoughtfulness of the fight scenes in Batman Begins nor the frantic, white-knuckled breathlessness of the chases in The Dark Knight. There's also an issue of fight choreography being so deliberate as to be ridiculously hokey in at least one scene.

As for the film's villain, Nolan and company nearly miss the mark here as well. Tom Hardy's Bane pins down the menacing qualities that make a fantastic and memorable aggressor, but the character becomes lost in the wave of second act convolution, his motives unsubstantiated, his means counter-intuitive, and his voice strangely cheeky and irreconcilably garbled by that mask. Darth Vader he is not, but he is an amalgamation of the two villains we've already seen in Nolan's Batman movies: Ra's al Ghul and the Joker. Bane has the same aim as Liam Neeson's Ra's and a similar modus operandi to that of Heath Ledger's anarchistic Joker, but makes far less of an impression than either, unfortunately.

Finally, the film ends with a resounding conclusion, but then drags on into something that offers very little in the way of closure. It's a cop-out of sorts, and should elicit an exasperated groan rather than cheers from its audience.

The Dark Knight Rises is nearly crushed beneath the mass of its own preposterous plot, but manages to rise, just barely, above by virtue of a brilliant and taut opening act, strong performances from its ensemble cast, and deep emotional resonance. It's a film that doesn't even begin to breach the long shadows of its two predecessors in the trilogy, but if considered on its own it's a commendable, though deeply flawed, effort from Christopher Nolan and his collaborators.

Rating: 6.5 /10

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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