The Dark Knight
British filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the superhero franchise reaches its apotheosis with this sequel to Batman Begins, a well-imagined, perfectly executed film that combines blockbuster spectacle with indie cinema cool and smarts. Having filled in Batman’s origin and set the scene in the previous film, Nolan dives straight into the action with a bank heist. As Batman (Christian Bale) continues his war on organised crime with the assistance of dogged Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman), flashy DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and droll valet Alfred (Michael Caine), it becomes increasingly clear that his unlawful efforts at re-establishing order in Gotham City have inspired a horrifying alter-ego in the psychotic, clown The Joker (the late Heath Ledger).
What follows is a thrilling battle of wits and wills between protagonist and antagonist – who are revealed as very much two sides of the same coin - and their duel slowly terrorises the populace Gotham. The long, dark game of cat and mouse plays out as a morality tale, which also works as a political allegory about post-9/11 America. Having already eschewed the cartoony Gothic trappings of Tim Burton’s Batman films, Nolan further pares down the high stylisation to make a taut, tough urban thriller that is primarily concerned with theme, character and plotting, and in modern mainstream cinema, that’s an achievement.
Out now on general release.