Dark, indeed. In fact, this Batman sequel may be the darkest movie of the year. Capitalizing on Gotham’s legendary horrors, this chapter forsakes all of the emotion that made Batman Begins actually interesting, and goes full throttle instead, for the action. It’ll make a fortune.
Not that there aren’t rewards in this Nolan Brothers production. Especially as seen in IMAX, the soaring flight scenes, through the skyscrapers of Gotham and Hong Kong, are dizzyingly thrilling. And kinetic and lip smacking, poor Heath Ledger is simply terrific, establishing a unique take on the already overplayed Joker. It probably doesn’t matter that Christian Bale’s complex take on the playboy with a conscience is shoved aside in favor of a rubberized suit and stuff too cool for even him to get a kick out of. Because Morgan Freeman keeps it real (doesn’t he always?) and Michael Caine and Gary Oldman give sly, spot on performances. Maggie Gyllenhaal slides into Katie Holmes’ deserted role as Rachel, but it’s Aaron Eckhart who’s asked to do the most here: transforming his key character without the aide of real explanation in the script.
Yes, there are stabs at morals here; even a moment or two of quick introspection. But forget any levity: the only lightness is figurative and comes when guys are trying to kill each other while swooping through the skies. Maybe in the next Batman, the balance of visceral, introspection and a few laughs will be better: after all, they mention several times in this oh so bleak movie, it’s always darkest before the dawn.