Granted, he lifted half of his cast for The Dark Knight Rises from his brilliant Inception, but then he added Anne Hathaway and Ben Mendelsohn into the mix, and the result is an incredibly well-crafted, intense bombardment of wicked cool imagery and edge of your seat mayhem.
These super hero movies live and die on the strength of their villains. Look at the past decade of the Marvel collection:
The first Tobey Maguire Spiderman had the perpetually creepy Willem Dafoe as the ‘Green Goblin,’ and then ran in to the ditch in the subsequent two sequels with the lame ‘Doc Oc’ and the flimsy ‘Sandman.’ The first Iron Man had a decent villain, but Mickey Rourke laid an egg in the second. Thor worked mostly because of Tom Hiddleston’s work as ‘Loki.’ Joss Whedon agreed with me, wisely installing ‘Loki’ as The Avengers‘ nemesis. Captain America not only had the Nazis to battle, but he also went toe to toe with Hugo Weaving as ‘Red Skull.’
‘Bane’ and his motley gang of cellar dwelling hoodlums literally occupy Wall Street at one point, storming the stock exchange floor in one of many menacing scenes.
The comparison to the anarchistic strain of this past year’s Occupy Movement is unavoidable and not accidental. But Nolan wisely never steers the narrative into lecture territory.
Sure, Hathaway’s sexy cat burglar purrs sweet nothings into ‘Bruce Wayne’s’ ear about “taking what she needs from people who have too much” and “there are no fresh starts in today’s world,” but it’s ultimately just boiler plate flirtations to set the table for the inevitable uprising. “The storm is coming,” she warns. “So you and your friends better batten down the hatches.”
Damn – it is on!
And it is – cuz this ‘Bane’ dude is all business, no hedge funds.
Christian Bale is solid again as our tormented caped crusader. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman do what they do. Gary Oldman finds just the right urgency to string together some of the muddier plot points, and Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt fill out the ensemble gracefully.
The Dark Knight Rises does get bogged down in plot exposition at times, and probably has no business running 2:45; but name me another director working today with as much sheer talent and I’ll buy you a chicken quesadilla.