Anarchy Reigns Supreme

The Dark Knight

dark_knight_ver2

Christopher Nolan follows up his 2005 film Batman Begins with a darker, more sinister and entirely gripping sequel, The Dark Knight. At the end of Batman Begins the Gotham City police chief James Gordon played with great subtlety by Gary Oldman hands Bruce Wayne a calling card for the a new breed of criminal. Wayne, or his alter ego Batman flips over the card and all we see is The Joker, a suggestion that a sequel is definitely in the pipeline. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman reprising their roles, who was to be cast as the ultimate villain? The role of the Joker, first made famous by a more jovial and naughty Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman in the late 1980’s was reinvented with a more anarchistic alacrity by the hugely talented Heath Ledger, fresh from his Oscar-nominated role in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.

So with the casting of the film pretty much sorted only with the slight change of Maggie Gyllenhaal taking on the role of female lead character Rachel Dawes, played in Batman Begins by the pre-Tom Cruise wedded Katie Holmes, all seemed clear sailing. In January 2008 tragedy struck with the unexpected and premature death of Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight’s main draw card, and an eerie and tragic shadow was cast over the release of the film, for it was to become Heath Ledger’s last completed movie and more significantly his final and most intense cinematic impression ever. So when The Dark Knight was released in July simultaneously in cinemas around the globe, the hype was not only about the best sequel ever, it was largely attributed to Ledger’s brilliant and overtly sinister portrayal of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker. Ledger deservedly won the Oscar post-humously for Best Supporting Actor for this film, the second actor in cinema history since Peter Finch won for Network.

So naturally, like any avid cineaste, I couldn’t wait to see the final movie. Having followed Christopher Nolan’s previous works from the bizarre Memento to the excellent 2006 film The Prestige

Magic is an illusion and ambition a killer

I knew that The Dark Knight would be in exceptionally talented hands. The Dark Knight, like the trailer suggests, will literally blow any audience viewer away or transfix them to their seat with visuals and cutting edge sound so spectacular it’s hard to realize that two and a half hours have passed. A high-octane and visually spectacular movie with one great action sequence followed by another, punctuated by superb performances not only by Ledger as the Joker, but by Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart who takes on the wonderfully ambiguous part of District Attorney Harvey Dent. Gotham is a simulacrum of any large American metropolis, a sinister and shadowy mix of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where corporate greed fits like a glove with psychotic criminals, ruthless mobsters and a city whose citizens have clearly lost their souls.

For this Joker, a spine-chillingly brilliant and maniacal performance by Heath Ledger, does not have a goal just as long as he is content with wreaking mass destruction, he is purely doing it so anarchy can reign supreme. Prisoners are not an option and nothing is spared as violent and malignant retribution for all the evil that was inflicted on him as a character. The Joker simply is a delusional psychopath with no particular empathy for any moral order or social consequence, let alone a superior and well-meaning hero like Batman, the once brave and fabulously wealthy Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight is undeniably the best film in ages, for everything is of vastly superior quality from the superb action sequences, senseless and conniving villains, to the exhilarating aerial shots of Gotham and Hong Kong, combined with the elegance of the ultra wealthy urbanized set contrasted by the violent and devious criminals which seek to undermine all that was once sacred. The technical aspects of the film are brilliant from the sound editing, to the slick pace, insures that at  two and a half hours, one is never bored, one is shocked into a state of frenzied captivation, entranced by a film so expansive and devouring, refined and slick, scary and ultimately very intense. Don’t miss this spectacular sequel on the big screen, it is entirely beyond anything one can even comprehend. As for the late Heath Ledger, one really wonders who is having the last laugh.

The Joker?

Ledgers Iconic final performance

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