The thing with trilogies is that by the time you get around to part three, everyone’s pretty much made up their mind about the series.
So, in reality a filmmaker could coast (or bloat the heck out of a plot Spider-Man 3…you know what you did). However, we’re of course talking about Christopher Nolan and his game-changing Batman series here, so really, we all know that’s not thee case.
In “The Dark Knight Rises” Nolan’s final chapter (for now at least) we once again find ourselves in Gotham. Although, unlike the turbulent crime-filled city we’ve come to know, we find a city at a point of self-proclaimed peace.
That is if you ignore the impending class warfare due to the staggering gap between the rich and poor (sounds familiar).
The death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and subsequent concealment, with the help of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), of his final hours of insanity-driven criminal activity has served it’s purpose.
It’s a world without a need for The Batman. Consequently he, along with his playboy, millionaire, philanthropist counterpart, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), have gone into hiding.
Little does anyone know that an uprising, with the promise of equalizing the classes is upon them. Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), a crazed, masked man who takes Gotham hostage, and sadly the rest of the world lets him do it.
The Bane-ruled Gotham is like a scene out of the French Revolution, evoking images of the storming of the Bastille and the Tennis Court Oath. It is a metropolis seemingly ruled by the people (in appearance only of course) in which those on the bottom have taken control.
This maniacal, masked villain is a hulk of a man, and a beautifully motivated character, and regular readers know how I love villains with motivation. I would tell you what his motivation is, but no spoilers (sorry). However, add the fact that Mr. Hardy pulls off an incredibly moving performance with 3/4′s of his face covered and I admit the rest of the movie could have sucked and I still would have been happy. It didn’t, but it could have. Now, back to the story:
Bane’s assault on the city of Gotham, along with some motivation from Alfred (Michael Caine), a seemingly nameless “hot-headed” young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a do-gooder/philanthropist named Miranda (Marion Cotillard), and a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) all come together to lure Mr. Wayne (and Batman) back into the world.
Although Batman gets the title, this story is as much about the supporting cast as it is about the Dark Knight himself, perhaps more so. Luckily, it has some strong stories and performances to rely on.
Ladies first: Ms. Hathaway’s Cat Woman is the absolute best that this character can be. She’s smart, sneaky, a little bit illegal, but good at heart. Ms. Cotillard as Miranda is surprising to say the least. Yet another intelligent character who knows how to play the game and look good doing it.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt practically steals the hero half of this show. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that his story is eerily similar to that of our titular hero. Still, he definitely has the skills to carry a superhero franchise, should that burden be thrust upon him (sorry for the slight spoiler).
Lastly Mr. Caine. What can I say? The only complaint I have is that Alfred disappears from the screen for far too long. Thank you sir, for continuing to do this role proud. The trilogy wouldn’t be the same without you.
Much like the rest of this series, “The Dark Knight Rises” puts humanity in dire straits and all we as the audience can do is hope for the best. You can of course safely assume that in the end good will win, but not without the worst in us all is put before us. Batman will inevitably save the day, but not without the goodness of those “ordinary” people he relies on so much. Not just for their actions, but for their belief.
Well done Mr. Nolan, and we look forward to the next chapter, whatever it may be.
…and a very Happy Opening Ceremonies to all!!!
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a film directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on John le Carré’s 1974 British spy novel, is a welcome reminder of what suspense is capable of–what it can do to us and what it can do for us.
First, our setting:
- England in the midst of the Cold War. The head of MI6, Control (John Hurt), believes there is a Soviet mole at the top of his agency.
[Interesting side-note: John le Carré, who is actually David Cornwell, wrote this based on his actual experiences in MI5 and MI6 in the 50's and 60's...back to the story]
Next, our suspects:
- Tinker–Percy Alleline (Toby Jones)
- Tailor–Bill Haydon (Colin Firth)
- Soldier–Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds)
- Poor Man–Toby Esterhase (David Dencik)
- Beggarman–George Smiley (Gary Oldman)
Finally, our story: After a bloody incident in Budapest involving the public death of operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), Control and Smiley are forced into early retirements.
A year later, after the death of Control, suspicions of a mole within resurface with a phone call from rogue operative Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy). Smiley is covertly called in to investigate and with the help of one insider, Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), he dives back into a world of secrets, deception, and expertly crafted stories.
It’s a story of vigilance, persistence, and patience, and it is told completely out of order. Questions are presented, abandoned, and then answered at a later point. It’s almost as though they’re making sure you’re paying as close attention as Smiley is…as you should be.
Details are slowly discovered and what starts out as a seemingly singular event completely without context becomes a detailed and intricately woven plot.
At the center of it all is Smiley, a man apparently untouched by time. As the plot jumps back and forth through time and space, he remains nearly the same (aside from his awesome and “awesomer” specs). He sits, he watches, he listens, he notices.
As Smiley, Gary Oldman is stoicism incarnate. He is unflinching, steadfast, solemn and completely mesmerizing. He doesn’t say much, so when he speaks, you listen. This my friends, is how to use silence. In the midst of a world filled with backroom meetings, cigarette smoke, and a whole lot of drinking (seriously), Smiley is the picture of calm reflection…with plenty of drinking and smoking too.
In general this is a fairly quiet film. There are no grand explosions, dangling from truly terrifying heights, no revelatory flashback sequences, no moment when everything finally comes together, and few things you’d expect from a modern spy movie. The entire plot is a sequence of bringing everything together. No one piece is more important than any other.
So how can this possibly be suspenseful? After all, there no cliffs (literal or metaphorical), no grand finales, no tension ridden musical interludes. It’s a mystery…and a darn good spy story.
p.s. the Golden Globes are upon us…keep an eye out for 2WC coverage of the big day…and a congrats to the nominated Mr. Gary Oldman.