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Dark Knight Rises, The (AF)


Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Burn Gorman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Juno Temple, Daniel Sunjata, Chris Ellis, Tom Conti, Nestor Carbonell, Brett Cullen, Aidan Gillen, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson

Director: Christopher Nolan

It’s been eight years since Bruce Wayne (and his alter ego Batman) went into self-imposed exile after taking the blame for the death of the Gotham City D.A.

He hides out at home, telling butler Caine (at times putting the ‘ham’ into Gotham) “There’s nothing out there for me”. Fortunately for the good folk of Gotham, sexy cat burglar Hathaway (aka Catwoman, although she’s never actually called that) breaks into Wayne’s mansion with a mysterious agenda. Which catalyses Wayne to don his Batsuit again and, helped by Hathaway, to save the city from masked psychopath-terrorist Hardy…

Anyone who gives away more of the storyline (co-scripted by director Nolan with his brother Jonathan, from the latter and David S Goyer’s story) deserves to be run down by the Batmobile. (And no, this isn’t the traditional “It would be wrong to give away the plot” ploy used by reviewers to disguise the fact that they fell asleep during the screening).

Here the Nolans kick off with an edge-of-the-seat mid-air skyjack by Hardy that would leave 007 green with envy. And the pace stays fast, the action and thrills and suspense come even faster and deliver enough ingenious plot twists to make the most of a long (164 minutes) running time that never feels that way.

Seamless special effects (Batman takes to the air in a unique Batplane) are never allowed to upstage the actors, with Bale giving an outstanding performance that makes his portrait of a superhero without superpowers both credible and compelling.

The Dark Knight Rises completes Nolan’s trilogy. It would be a deeply foolhardy actor who attempts to recreate Wayne/Batman again. Let George Clooney’s deeply embarrassing turn for Joel Schumacher stand as a vivid warning against attempting to revive the role again for a very, very, very long time.

Hardy deserves laurels for creating a memorable opponent for Batman (although there are times when his face-covering mask muffles his dialogue) and their no-holds-barred mano-a-mano confrontations in particular carry potent dramatic-suspenseful charges.

Luscious-lipped Hathaway is both sexy and savage when it comes to action and Murphy turns up briefly to good effect as a judge in a dangerous post-Hardy Gotham City

Nolan regulars Oldman, Freeman and (briefly) Neeson (from Batman Begins in 2005) return with key contributions, Cotillard is well cast as a philanthropic socialite and Gordon-Levitt does well as a workaday cop with a mission. That said, the acting honours belong to Bale and he deserves them.

It’s ironic right now with the Olympic Games in the wings that a third should come first. So it’s high praise to all concerned that the final film in Nolan’s trilogy is an undoubted winner.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers . Technicolor.
164 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Jul 2012