Action franchises are often fraught with difficulties (witness Matrix Revolutions and Speed II as just two examples). So, no matter the pedigree of the director (Christopher Nolan) and his ability to produce cerebral action films, there was always a chance that Dark Knight Rises could be a Batman film too far.
So, having settled into my seat at the Barbican’s Cinema One and watched the first twenty or so minutes of the film, I am happy to say that I liked what I saw and all franchise nerves were abated.
The action kicks in right from the get-go, and the mid-air hijacking which introduces us to Batman’s latest foe Bain (Tom Hardy) is breathtaking. Even though I had to push to the back of my mind the thought that “Bain really does sound like Darth Vader”.
That done, we’re quickly re-acquainted with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) now living as a Howard Hughes-esque recluse and his new frenemy Selina Carlyle (AKA Cat Woman). Played with just the right mixture of sass and bitterness by Anne Hathaway.
The usual stellar cast of – mostly British – co-stars are back (Oldman, Caine and Freeman) plus the addition of two ‘Inception’ alumni Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the luminous Marion Cotillard complete the main cast. However, do keep an eye out for the other Brits that make an appearance plus Matthew Modine aged looks made be realise that ‘Full Metal Jacket’ was a long time ago.
Throughout the film Batman’s invincibility is called into question and relationships are strained but there is always a great action scene or a hint of delicious dark humour to keep the mood from slipping into depressing. The ‘Exile or Death’ scene being an example of when the film’s dark humour caused a rye laugh in the cinema.
I was told by my cinema partner that they saw the ending a mile off but I was just happy to disengage and suspend disbelief so that I could really enjoy it.
An excellent conclusion to a trilogy and a film that can equally be enjoyed as a stand-alone piece.