Here’s the thing: I suspect Christopher Nolan didn’t want to make this movie at all, or even if he did, I don’t think he wanted it to be about Batman fighting the bad guys. Long passages in the film feel like a meditation on the nature of superheroism. The tone is so bleak, only thing missing is a scene with two men dressed in black — one with a scythe and another with slightly more high-tech weaponry — playing chess on Wall Street.
While The Dark Knight was about the humanity in heroes and the price they have to pay as a result of this dichotomy, this one seems to be more about the heroism in humans. While I don’t fault his intentions, there is rarely a line of dialogue with enough intelligence to justify having them. There is maybe one great line (barring the Dickens quote right at the end) — “I never escaped” — and even that turns out to be driven more by plot rather than character.
And while on that, tip to Christopher Nolan: If you want to surprise people with a plot point, pick smaller actors to do it. Otherwise we’re gonna wonder what they have to do that deserves the expense on their paycheck.
The entire series has been about the masks people hide behind and the secrets they keep. Batman, the Joker, Bane, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon… The reason why the Joseph Gordon Levitt character is so refreshing is that he’s this young, open-faced cop trying to do the right thing — his own protestations to the contrary. Seen from that viewpoint, this ending is more tragic than it seems at first.
Behind nearly every hero, super or otherwise, is a family member who wishes he’d hang up his boots and have a normal, safer life. Alfred has that role here. There’s a conversation between the two of them right at the beginning that mirrors one between the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck characters in Good Will Hunting — it is probably the one perfectly pitched conversation between the two. The rest is a tad overdone — well acted, no doubt, but melodramatic all the same.
And finally, for those of you who loved the movie and feel that I sound more underwhelmed than I ought to be, I blame this chap. When you watch the entire movie wondering how Batdog would’ve handled these situations, it doesn’t make for an absorbing experience.