This is your classic Batman movie, except that it isn’t. This is a dark view of the Bruce Wayne/Batman dynamic duo. A few screen shots from the film as it streamed on Hulu this week and some analysis. It’s The Dark Knight. From Wikipedia, where I am drawing details, here is the main cast of characters:
- Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman
- Heath Ledger as The Joker
- Gary Oldman as James Gordon
- Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes
- Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
The opening shows this innocent scene, but they way the camera pans and zooms in we get to see it as ominous.
The zoom culminates in the view of a window on the side of a major high rise, right before a blast from a shotgun shatters it, blowing glass in a spectacular display. Inside two clowns—they are wearing clown masks—launch zip lines to the roof of a bank building across the street. They zip on over and begin their nefarious deed.
Another clown waits, mask at the ready, for his drive to arrive. He gets in the car, dons his mask, and converses with the other clown. They discuss not sharing the day’s proceeds with the master planner. There must be a way to eliminate the competition and maximize individual profit.
It’s apparently the scheme of the day. After one clown on the roof top completes his task of disabling the alarm system, hie friend clown, as previously arranged, shoots him in the back of the head.
The remaining clowns enter the bank and discharge their firearms, cowing the customers and employees. A master safe cracker clown disables the lock of the master safe, after which he is shot by a fellow clown. Still part of the day’s plan. Great piles of cash are loaded into bags.
That leaves two clowns in the bank, and one jokes that likely this is the point at which his buddy is supposed to shoot him. No. His buddy’s job is to shoot the bus driver. What bus? This bus. A school bus backs violent through the front window, eliminating the suspicious clown. When the driver finishes loading the massive pile of cash into the bus, the remaining clown shoots him.
And he drives out of the bank to join a parade of school buses taking innocent tykes to morning classes. He’s The Joker.
This is an obvious affront to civilized society, and we see the district attorney and his attractive assistant trying a case against some savvy gangsters. The two have a thing going. She was previously Bruce Wayne’s main squeeze and knows he is secretly Batman.
The focus narrows to a Chinese gangster, who has fled to Hong Kong, beyond the reach of the law. Bruce Wayne discusses with his master technician, Lucius Fox, how they plan to kidnap the gangster and spirit him back to the U.S. of A.
We see Batman making his move atop the towering bastion of the master criminal. He invades, battles armed guards, and snatches the gang lord into an airborne C-130 on its way across the Pacific.
We see the psychotic Joker taking over the local gangs, organizing them under singular leadership. He is ruthless and conniving, always one step, or more, ahead of the law and ahead of his criminal co-conspirators.
This culminates in The Joker taking Rachel and Harvey hostage, setting both up to be obliterated by time bombs rigged to stockpiles of fuel drums, and miles apart. Only one can be rescued in time. It’s a fiendish plot, and it succeeds.
We see The Joker carry off plots on a grand scale. He simultaneously blows up hospitals all over the city.
Bruce Wayne devises a scheme to track The Joker. The scheme involves simultaneously tracking all cell phones in the region. A massive bank of computer displays tracks the progress.
Gotham City looks a lot like Chicago.
The Joker announces his plan to destroy the entire city, targeting all bridges out. Citizens must be ferried out across the water, and the city’s jail population must take a separate boat. Then The Joker announces his final scheme, and it’s a play on the prisoner’s dilemma. Aboard each boat is a trigger to blow up the other boat. Will the good citizens go first and blow up the criminals? In the end The Joker’s reasoning fails him, and both boats make the decision to not kill the others.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that, except am I the only one to notice bus loads of school kids heading off to class after nine a.m., which is the earliest banks ever open?