The Dark Knight is a non-stop action packed film worthy of being named one of the greatest of all time. Without a doubt what made “The Dark Knight” was Heath Ledger as The Joker. Without Heath the movie wouldn’t have been as great as it was. His acting was so good you don’t see him in the film, he wasn’t Heath Ledge, he was The Joker!
As the film opens, Gotham still needs Batman (played again with intensity and vulnerability by Christian Bale), though its champion’s influence hasn’t been entirely positive. Organized crime has practically gone corporate in response, and a group of clumsy Batman wannabes have done little to stop it. Then there’s the Joker, a mysterious new criminal who wants to foil the forces of law and order for reasons he keeps to himself.
What the Joker lacks in transparent motives he makes up for with enthusiasm. Playing a self-described “engine of chaos,” the late Heath Ledger treats the iconic comic-book villain as a man who sees life as a dark joke, but takes care to tailor his punchlines for maximum impact. It’s an unnervingly thorough performance, from the character’s serpentine habit of licking his lips to the hitch Ledger throws into his stride that makes him like a wounded, angry animal. It’s nightmare stuff with real-world roots, both in the randomness of his destructive acts of terror, and the imperfect systems designed to stand in his way.
Basing his schemes on the corruptibility of cops and criminals, Ledger’s Joker homes in on the few who appear beyond his reach, particularly Batman and district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a fearless enforcer of the law poised to make real changes to the city. Matters are complicated by the fact that Eckhart now shares a bed with Bale’s lifelong love Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, subbing in for Katie Holmes). But to the film’s credit, Nolan isn’t afraid to keep matters complicated. The script, which he co-wrote with his brother Jonathan, has the unapologetic density of a good crime novel, with major and minor characters alike getting their due. Bale and Gyllenhaal have only a few scenes together, but they establish a tangible chemistry, and Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman make significant contributions as Bale’s confidantes and consciences.
Nolan lets the film’s spectacular action scenes seem like the natural consequences of the conflicts between characters, conflicts that build until Gotham becomes less a setting than a stage for an operatic conflict between tortured good and contented chaos. As strong as The Dark Knight’s setpieces areâ€”and they’re all pulsing showstoppers of a kind not seen in Batman Beginsâ€”the real tension comes from Nolan’s willingness to let that battle’s ultimate outcome remain in doubt even as the credits roll. The film’s capes and cowls suggest one genre, but it’s a metropolis-sized tragedy at heart.
A+ / One of the best movies of all time!