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The Dark Knight Rises - Review

The Dark Knight Rises

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

CHRISTOPHER Nolan promised us an epic conclusion to his Batman trilogy and has risen to his own challenge by delivering an often breathtaking finale.

The Dark Knight Rises succeeds on just about every level. It’s intelligent, often fiendishly so, it’s emotionally engaging, sometimes tear-jerkingly so, and it is genuinely spectacular (especially if seen in IMAX).

Whether it’s the best of the three films is debatable (The Dark Knight may yet have the last laugh by virtue of The Joker in its pack) but it fits in beautifully into the world Nolan has created with the seeds he first sewed during the events of Batman Begins.

Set eight years after the events of the second film, The Dark Knight Rises finds Gotham at a time of ‘peace’ with Batman gone, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living as a recluse and secrets still safely buried, albeit with consciences weighing heavy on men such as Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).

But a storm is coming in the form of a violent reckoning led by the masked mercenary known as Bane (Tom Hardy). And while his emergence brings Batman back out of hiding, the odds may be too stacked against him to make the difference anymore.

Caught in the ensuing war are also a mysterious thief named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), whose motives are unclear, and an idealistic young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Nolan’s Batman films have long since transcended conventional comic book movies, aspiring to much loftier heights so that they can comfortably be mentioned in the same breath as classic crime sagas such as The Godfather and Heat.

And with this final film, he continues that transition to give Batman extra contemporary resonance. The Dark Knight Rises is very much a film of its time, nodding towards a world still living in the fallout (both economic and terror-based) of 9/11 and in the grip of economic failure and corruption.

Yet for all its allegories and impressive set pieces, it never loses sight of the humanity at play either. And this is where the film makes the leap from merely spectacular to truly epic.

Every character resonates in some way, some surprisingly so, while there is a genuine sense of loss. For Bale’s Batman/Wayne, the film is very much about the cost of wearing the mask and the actor delivers perhaps his most complex performance in the role to really examine the mixed emotions that drive him.

But there’s strong work, too, from Gordon-Levitt (excellent as John Blake), Hardy as Bane (brutal, menacing and surprisingly easy to understand after initial concerns about his audio from behind the mask) and Michael Caine, often heart-breaking as Alfred.

Anne Hathaway, too, is very good in the one role that could have proved an Achilles heel.

Their performances ensure that the action delivers on an emotional level as well as a visceral one, so that key events that take place throughout are genuinely felt.

The various plot twists and turns, meanwhile, are well thought through and even better hidden, making this a blockbuster that really does engage the heart and the brain.

It means that audiences will be engaged and quite often exhilarated throughout a running time that seldom seems as extravagant as close to three hours might suggest.

And once the dust has finally settled on all of the events that transpire, you may even find yourself shedding a tear, if not for the characters and whatever fate has in store for them, but then at the very least in acknowledgement of blockbuster filmmaking at its very best.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 164mins
UK Release Date: July 20, 2012