|'The conclusion simultaneously features Indiana Jones 4 levels of overkill and franchise-high levels of poignancy, emotion and forward direction.'|
As Christopher Nolan ducks out of the Batman franchise, one thing should remain clear: despite what anyone thinks of this final film, The Dark Knight Rises, this was a property in the doldrums. And just look at it soar now.
With the final film of his trilogy, Nolan has the right to do anything and everything and he flirts, mostly successfully, with all of it; political subtext, death, heartbreak, redemption, the future and sacrifice. It's all here in arguably the most ambitious of the three films.
And yet, the problems feel more pronounced here than ever before. Where Batman Begins had a chemical MacGuffin and The Dark Knight a computing one, both managed to, just, sideline them. Rises MacGuffin is unmissable, a part of the plot front and centre and one lifted from countless other films. The first third too is unbelievably heavy of script, Nolan and his brethren co-writer Jonathan spending a long time explaining the eight years of backstory since Batman's (Christian Bale) flight at the end of the second film.
There are new strengths here too though, mainly in the strong supporting cast Nolan assembles, plucked from Inception alumni. Marion Cotillard has the most thankless task, an under-written role which ensures you care little once her arc is complete. Better though are Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Selina (Anne Hathaway), never anything but allies to the hero but ambiguous enough to imbue interest and driven by motivations varied enough to secure investment. Those who claim this is an ensemble piece are right: Batman's screen time is reduced, mainly in favour of those two, a correct decision come the final third's machinations.
And what a final third it is. Reveals come quickly, as do fights which mirror the brutality of Batman's earlier underground slugfest with antagonist Bane (Tom Hardy). The conclusion simultaneously features Indiana Jones 4 levels of overkill and franchise-high levels of poignancy, emotion and forward direction. Everything and everyone is satisfied. A city dangles perilously. A hero rises. Nolan takes his bow.