The Dark Knight Rises is the most ambitious of Nolan’s trilogy, and the most emotionally stirring.
The drawbacks are more than forgivable given the enormous feast that co-writer/director Christopher Nolan has given us in this third chapter: it does feel occasionally overstuffed and more complicated than it should be, yet one has to admire Nolan’s consistent abundance of ambition in a genre frequently lacking any. And the film is obviously missing the iconic element that Heath Ledger provided with his time vault performance as The Joker, but that’s to be expected. Bane, the villain of this new installment played by Tom Hardy, and the plan he sets into motion, doesn’t carry the politically-shaded clarity of its predecessor, either, though not for lack of trying.
But whatever level of cohesion it may lack in these areas, it definitely makes up for in a good old-fashioned (and largely CGI-free) spectacle, and an overwhelming sense of oppressive despair that kicks in and doesn’t let up after the first hour.
Once again, Nolan grounds these characters in a reality that shame all comic book adaptations that came before it, and cloaks it in a real-world setting amidst a chaotic, corroding society to which we can all sadly relate.
Christian Bale is afforded an opportunity to explore the depths of the Bruce Wayne/Batman mythology with more colors than he has in previous installments. For me, his journey is the heart of the film. The supporting players are, as usual, across-the-board excellent. Michael Caine provides a level of sentiment that stands in opposition to those who claim that Nolan is simply a cold, unfeeling Kubrick-clone.
The final act really soars and hits all the right notes; it’s thrilling, surprising and strongly emotional.