The third of the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Batman (Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne) is wrongly accused of killing. He has retired. Gotham is under threat from a villain called Bane, who wears a face guard. He takes over Gotham and turns it into a failed state of mob rule. Batman must take on Bane but is imprisoned and he must escape. He and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) fight Bane and his gang…
I’m not a fan of the comic book (sorry, graphic novel) genre and I’m still surprised that anyone can take seriously a guy who wears a mouse mask, pants, and tights in rubber. I remember the Adam West Batman of the 60’s and it was a camp send up. Still, we do take it all seriously and it does have origins in Gothic style. The advantage that Batman has over the other superheroes is that because he’s human then the challenge is all the greater. His indestructible motorbike is like a fold up black quad bike, and his air craft is a super hi-tech black cranefly. These are accessories to the Bruce Wayne character. Christian Bale plays Batman as an initially unsympathetic Howard Hughes recluse who goes through a re-learning experience to become a hero again. Batman’s enemy is Bane whose story goes back to the prison Batman must escape from. Bane is played by Tom Hardy wearing a sort of bondage cum rugby mask and he sounds like he’s talking through a bucket. One critic has mentioned that there is no substitute for Heath Ledger’s Joker, but to be fair to Hardy’s Bane, the Joker had a slighter physical build whereas Bane is all menace from physical power. Bane turns Gotham City into an anti-capitalist stronghold run by gang lords. Cillian Murphy presides over the kangaroo court which enacts our fantasies about retribution for the unaccountable over-mighty lords of the world. The forces of law and order are aided by Detective Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who looks like he might be the next Robin. Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman play the technicians with their fingers on bomb buttons. One of the main characters, like Bane, is involved in the League of Shadows (the oriental martial arts cult in which Batman plays a part). Anne Hathaway is Catwoman, a girl next door turned into a fashion statement in black. Michael Caine plays his butler Alfred like a wounded surrogate father. Caine seems genuinely upset, maybe from watching some of his past film roles.
The script is good enough to leave you waiting for the next line, and it’s a tribute to its effectiveness that the absurdity of the Batman regalia doesn’t undermine it. Gotham under Bane’s rule is any graphic novel dystopia of gloom, like Gustave Dore drawings in hi-tech. Undoubtedly the best of the Batman films.