The Dark Knight (2008) Director: Christopher Nolan
“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector.”
The Dark Knight is the magnificent sequel to Nolan’s earlier film, Batman Begins. The same all-star cast continues in the sequel: Christian Bale (who was apparently a lesser known actor prior to the Batman series), Michael Caine (playing Alfred the butler), Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and most importantly Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Academy Award for his humorous and haunting portrayal of “The Joker.” Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose shortly after the film was completed. For his inspiration, Ledger apparently read the original comic book series featuring the Joker. The “Dark Knight” nickname was originally given to Batman in the first Batman comic (1940). The film was shot principally in Chicago.
This action-packed film opens with a dramatic bank robbery in Gotham, in which each thief is supposed to kill the man before him, until it gets to the Joker who has killed the last man. Meanwhile the noble Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon form an alliance to rid the city of crime. A corrupt accountant from Hong Kong agrees to hold the funds for Gotham’s criminals and gangsters, however the Joker intrudes and suggests they should all go after the Batman instead. He kills Gambol and takes over his gang for support. Meanwhile the corrupt Hong Kong accountant is brought to Gotham and confesses, so the police lock up every crime organization, so the Joker starts playing his anarchic games. He threatens to kill people each day unless the Batman reveals his identity. After a few days and deaths, Harvey Dent falsely claims he is the Batman. The Joker is eventually captured and aggressively interrogated by Batman. He reveals that both Harvey and Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Rachel Dawes, are rigged in buildings with explosives. He has only enough time to save one of them. The Joker mixes the two buildings and Batman rescues Harvey, only after he receives burn marks on one side of his face. Rachel dies. Meanwhile, the Joker makes his call which is to a phone zipped inside one of his maniac followers stomachs, which consequently causes a massive explosion in the prison, and he escapes. He takes the accountant from Hong Kong and lights him on fire with the pile of the mobsters’s money.
The movie takes a second turn, as Harvey becomes jaded at the death of Rachel (also his love interest). He becomes the comic character of “two face.” He starts killing people responsible for Rachel’s death by flipping a coin. Meanwhile the Joker has rigged two boats both escaping the city with explosives and one button each. He claims by pushing the button, the other boat will explode, and if one does not push the button both boats will explode at midnight, but neither boat pushes the button. Bruce Wayne finds Batman using illegal and immoral surveillance technology (in reference to our contemporary concerns regarding privacy and technocracy). The police apprehend the Joker but he praises the fact that Gotham will destroy itself upon finding out the truth about Harvey Dent and his turn to evil. At the end, Batman has a standoff with Dent as he threatens to kill Gordon’s family, and Batman kills Dent. He persuades Gordon to let Batman take the fall for the evil acts, so thus the villain becomes the hero for the sake of the city, and the hero (Batman) runs into hiding. The Batman becomes a symbol.
The Dark Knight is the great superhero film of our generation, far exceeding expectations. It is one of the great films of the 2010s and another triumph from Christopher Nolan.