The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises ★★★★★

I know. And then you lost them.
          That’s part of living, sir. But
          you’re not living - you’re waiting.
          Hoping for things to go bad again.
          Remember when you left Gotham?
          Before all this. Before Batman.
          Seven years you were gone. Seven
          years I waited. Hoping that you
          wouldn’t come back.
          Every year I took my holiday. I’d
          go to Florence. There’s a café by
          the Arno... Any fine evening I
          would sit there and order a Fernet
          Branca...
          I had a fantasy. I liked to imagine
          that one day I’d look across the
          tables, and see you. Sitting there
          with your wife. Perhaps some kids.
          You wouldn’t say anything to me, or
          me to you, but we’d both
          know...that you’d made it. That you
          were happy.
          I never wanted you to come back to
          Gotham. I knew there was nothing
          there for you but pain and tragedy,
          and I wanted more for you than
          that. I still do.

I don’t think I will ever get over anyone calling The Dark Knight Rises a bad film. Is it a forced entry that Nolan himself didn’t want to make, but did anyways so he could secure funding for Inception? Yes. Is another masterpiece in the theatrics and scale from Nolan, that operates on a colossal front whilst sitting on a personal and intimate emotional foundation of Bruce’s very own reluctance to move on from what he has outgrown? Why, yes it is, and its iteration of Bruce Wayne is the best in the trilogy, even if it isn’t the best film in the trilogy. The phenomenally intense scenes between Bruce and Alfred, talking about Bruce’s future - or perhaps the lack thereof - hit so passionately and are at the core of this film’s thematic exploration of hope, survival, posterity and lament. It’s an enduring story.

                   WAYNE
          Shouldn’t you be telling this to
          your superior officers?

                    BLAKE
          I did. One of them asked if he saw
any giant alligators down there. He needs you. He needs the Batman.

                    WAYNE
          If Commissioner Gordon thinks I’m
          the Batman he must be in a bad way
          -
                    BLAKE
          He doesn’t know or care who you
are. (Off look.) But we’ve met before. When I was a kid. At the orphanage. See, my mom died when I was small. Car accident, I don’t really remember it. But a couple of years later my dad was shot over a gambling debt. I remember that just fine. (Looks at Wayne.) Not a lot of people who what it feels like, do they? To be angry. In your bones. People understand, foster parents understand. For a while. Then they expect the angry kid to do what he knows he can never do. To move on. To forget.
Wayne stares at Blake.

                    BLAKE
          So they stopped understanding and
          sent the angry kid to a boys’ home
          - St. Swithin’s. Used to be funded
          by the Wayne Foundation. See, I
          figured it out too late. You have
          to hide the anger. Practice smiling
          in the mirror. Like putting on a
          mask. You showed up one day in a
          cool car, pretty girl on your arm.

                    BLAKE (cont’d)
          We were so excited - Bruce Wayne,
billionaire orphan. We made up stories about you. Legends. The other boys’ stories were just that. But when I saw you I knew who you really were... (Beat.) I’d seen that look on your face. Same one I taught myself.
Blake gets up to leave. Wayne is lost in thought.

                    BLAKE
          I don’t know why you took the fall
          for Dent’s murder, but I’m still a
          believer in the Batman. Even if you’re not.
          Shouldn’t you be telling this to
          your superior officers?
                    BLAKE
          I did. One of them asked if he saw
any giant alligators down there. He needs you. He needs the Batman.
                    WAYNE
          If Commissioner Gordon thinks I’m
          the Batman he must be in a bad way
          -
                    BLAKE
          He doesn’t know or care who you
are. (Off look.) But we’ve met before. When I was a kid. At the orphanage. See, my mom died when I was small. Car accident, I don’t really remember it. But a couple of years later my dad was shot over a gambling debt. I remember that just fine. (Looks at Wayne.) Not a lot of people who what it feels like, do they? To be angry. In your bones. People understand, foster parents understand. For a while. Then they expect the angry kid to do what he knows he can never do. To move on. To forget.
Wayne stares at Blake.
                    BLAKE
          So they stopped understanding and
          sent the angry kid to a boys’ home
          - St. Swithin’s. Used to be funded
          by the Wayne Foundation. See, I
          figured it out too late. You have
          to hide the anger. Practice smiling
          in the mirror. Like putting on a
          mask. You showed up one day in a
          cool car, pretty girl on your arm.
                    BLAKE (cont’d)
          We were so excited - Bruce Wayne,
billionaire orphan. We made up stories about you. Legends. The other boys’ stories were just that. But when I saw you I knew who you really were... (Beat.) I’d seen that look on your face. Same one I taught myself.
Blake gets up to leave. Wayne is lost in thought.
                    BLAKE
          I don’t know why you took the fall
          for Dent’s murder, but I’m still a
          believer in the Batman. Even if you’re not.

And don’t even get me started on Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is beyond sensational in this. His scenes with Gordon are impactful, deep, lasting, but it’s the scene above with Bruce that really endures in memory, lasting further as it reminisces upbringing and truth, the blushed, raw truth behind the facade we hold.

“Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.”

And whilst we’re at performances, let’s talk Bane because wow. Tom Hardy’s Bane is the living and breathing definition and manifestation of a physical performance. It’s a role and character that operates and is rooted in physicality. The entirety of Hardy’s stint as Bane is literally the perfect example of a physical performance - brooding, roaring, towering, beastly.

And beyond those two, we also get a theatrical Ben Mendelsohn performance. Momentary, but alas quite the fun we always expect from him. And yet another underrated performance in this, John Stewart, who is benignly menacing in the few minutes we see him in, especially on the bridge scene where he threatens to blow up the bridge if anyone crosses, and he smiles, and there’s just such a deeply evil presence in that smile, just the sinister simplicity of a smirk.

”You’re afraid if I go back out there, I’ll fail.”
“No, I’m afraid you want to.”

Lastly, the unsung hero of this film, this trilogy, of many of Nolan’s films, HANS ZIMMER. Not to say unsung because many sing praise of his legendary tracks, valiantly orchestrated masterpieces, but his work on the trilogy is like his other Nolan scores (in the best ways possible) - transcendent. Begins, TDK, TDKR are all connected - obviously, it’s a trilogy - especially through their scores and reoccurring themes. Hans work throughout all three meet up together as a trilogy of hope, courage and truth, connecting to each other as a story on its own, away from the films, telling the rise, fall and subsequent rise of a hero, his endurance, his courage and his lasting legacy. It’s immaculate.

“You see only one end to your journey. Leaving is all I have to make you understand, you're not Batman anymore. You have to find another way. You used to talk about finishing, about a life beyond that awful cave [...] It means your hatred... and it also means losing someone that I have cared for since I first heard his cries echo through this house. But it might also mean saving your life. And that is more important.“

The phenomenally moving performances, the cathartic end to Bruce’s story and the endurance of Gotham, the absolute blockbuster-scaled action and set pieces, the visceral cinematography aiding to move the story forward in catharsis (cohesively together with the script), the powerfully crafted Zimmer score, just all of this. Yeah, The Dark Knight Rises is very much still a masterpiece and - though it doesn’t say much because every film in his filmography is so uniquely strong and one of his best in some way - one of Nolan’s best works.

“I see a beautiful city.... and a brilliant people, rising from this abyss..... I see the lives, for which I lay down my life - peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy..... I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence..... It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known......”

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