'The Dark Knight Rises' Review: Muddled Politics, Storytelling
Saturday, 21 July 2012
Groping for shape and substance in the long shadow of 'The Dark Knight," Christopher Nolan’s "The Dark Knight Rises" is an unexpected disappointment.
Nolan, a director of rare intelligence and logistical skill who’s completely at home in the blockbuster idiom, stages some exciting scenes here (especially an earth-ripping attack on a packed football stadium); but most of the requisite battles and automotive chases feel recycled—we’ve seen them before, and better-organized, in "TDK."
It’s a peculiarly dispiriting film.
Crucially, and predictably, "TDKR" offers nothing on the order of Heath Ledger’s electrifying performance in the previous movie. Ledger’s Joker was a singular creation by a gifted actor, and it powered that great picture past its occasional lapses. Here, the designated villain is Bane, a muscle-bound mountain of ambiguously motivated evil, played by another fine actor, Tom Hardy. Bane’s most visible super-skill is underwhelming—he’s a really good fist-fighter. And with his shaved head and his mask, he recalls not only the hulking Humungus of the 1981 "Road Warrior," but any number of cheesy professional wrestlers.
The mask itself is a serious problem. A techno-appliance said to infuse the character with a steady supply of pain-killing something-or-other, it covers the lower half of Hardy’s face, robbing him of any possibility of facial expression and drowning his voice in a Vader-esque rumble that renders some of his line-readings incomprehensible. Even the Bane super-costume is wanting: in place of the Joker’s rancid nattiness, we have here a big lug in a sheepskin jacket.