Christopher Nolan’s third installment in the Batman trilogy is, arguably, the greatest superhero movie yet made. Simple as that. And yet, and here’s the funny thing, the movie is not as much about a superhero as the effect he has on a city. Watching it, one gets the feeling that there is more talk about Batman and his symbolism than him being actually onscreen, and it is curiously a better film for it. For example, there is a scene when he finally returns, and one of the older cops, recognising the tell tale signs of a Batman entrance, advises his younger partner that he’s in for a treat. In short, Batman is as much part of life in Gotham as the buses.
Unlike say, The Avengers, which is a hugely enjoyable film, TDKR gives a almost realistic idea as to the reality of living in a city where an extraordinary individual affects daily life. If anything, TDKR is closer to The Bourne Supremacy or the much underrated Bruce Willis movie The Siege than The Avengers or Iron Man.
The cast is excellent, with Tom Hardy shining as the thuggish yet curiously charismatic villain Bane (speaking in what sounded to me like a Sean Connery impression), and Michael Caine as a very touching Alfred Pennyworth. But for me, the real breakout characters were Joseph Gordon-Levitt as beat cop John Blake and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, who crosses over as an actress in this movie from being that pretty girl next door to seriously sexy. Both showed real onscreeen charisma.
The action scenes are very nicely put together, with some of the set pieces nothing short of spectacular. Nolan is proven right not only about not bothering with 3D but also moving away from the ultra-quick jumpcut style fight scenes of the last 15 years, where the viewer can’t actually see anything but a blur.
The plot is very much of its time, although nowhere near as political as some reviewers are making out, and it wraps up the trilogy in a very satisfying manner. There is a clear route, and an interesting one, to continue the franchise, but one would be afraid that someone other than the Nolan brothers could make a balls of it. After all, look what Warner Bros did after Tim Burton. Having said that, isn’t it time Christopher Nolan was asked to do a Bond movie?