The Dark Knight - main poster

The Dark Knight - main poster

Yes, me and three friends were among the millions who went to the midnight showing of The Dark Knight on Thursday night – yes, it took me that long to write this. At a running time of 152 minutes (2:32), this was one long movie, but it was absolutely worth it. Between all the amazing performances from the actors, their attention to detail from the comics, the great action scenes. According to Wikipedia’s The Dark Knight (film) article, the movie broke three records – it made $18.5 million from midnight showings, beating Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith‘s $16.9 million; it made $66.4 million on its opening day, beating Spider-Man 3‘s $58.9 million; and it made $158.4 million on its opening weekend, beating (again) Spider-Man 3 at $151.1 million – it also sold more opening weekend tickets than Spider-Man 3, 22.37 million at average $7.08 versus 21.96 million at average $6.88, so it wasn’t just inflation that got it that record. And, because this was in the same canon as Batman Begins, they used the same badass Batmobile (nicknamed the “Tumbler”) – which is awesome. I’d consider paying another $10 to see it a second time. Oh yeah, and they jammed two stories into it – but more on that later, no spoilers until the plot summary. First, however…

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Before starting this review, I’d like to take a moment en memorium of Heath Ledger. Yeah, it’s painfully stereotypical – but the man was a great actor, and his portrayal of The Joker was incredible. I went into the movie with a great respect for Jack Nicholson‘s performance as the same character in the 1989 Batman, but Ledger just blew him away. According to Wikipedia’s Dark Knight article, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month before the filming to get in character properly, and it paid off. His performance, one of his final works, was amazing; I’ve heard he’s being nominated for an Oscar for this performance, and I hope he gets it. I’m sure I can speak for everybody who saw this movie when I say, we’re sad to see him go. Heath, my proverbial hat is off to you.

Now, on with the plot summary. Yes, it’s spoiler time. As the movie begins, we see a bank robbery in progress. A bunch of guys in clown masks – they take everybody hostage, then start breaking in. Each time somebody finished their job, the person with them shoots them – to take them out of the “cut”. All the while, the bank manager (nameless, played by William Fichtner) is watching from his office. Until he gets tired of watching – and comes out brandishing a nice little sawed-off shotgun. Turns out this is a mob bank. He brings down a couple of the guys, but there are two hiding behind the desk.

The Dark Knight - outro poster

The Dark Knight - outro poster

After five shots, one asks the other if he’s out – to which he replies that he is. The first one stands up and gets shot, then makes a sarcastic remark to the second about how he was wrong. The manager is, in fact, now out – so they shoot him in the abdomen, give him a little spiel, and then shoot him in the head. Then they back a school bus into the bank (through a wall) to load the money, and simply join the rest of the fleet of school buses.

Later that night, a bunch of mob bosses are meeting, including the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), with Lau (Chin Han). Lau is speaking with them via webcam broadcast, presumably, from his office in China. They talk about how Lau is basically screwing them, but as it turns out, he’s the only supplier left (of what we never actually find out, presumably drugs) – because Batman has taken down all the others. Enter the Joker (Heath Ledger), who says he can take care of Batman. His asking price, however, is outrageous (50% of their profit if I recall), and he only escapes with his life because he has a bunch of grenades in his jacket, with all the pins tied to his thumb by string.

This meeting is interrupted by a bunch of Batman impersonators – some brandishing guns, many very physically unfit, and all of them dressed up in cheap imitation Batman suits. However, right as they’re getting their asses beaten, the real Batman (Christian Bale) comes flying through a half-wall of the parking garage in the Batmobile. He ultimately beats down the criminals while telling the impostors to (in different words) fuck off because they can’t do the job. However, in the process, he sustains a nasty dog bite on his arm.

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 1

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 1

Next we see Bruce Wayne, outside of his Batman suit, sitting in the bat cave stitching up the bite. Alfred (Michael Caine) walks in and tells Bruce he needs to stop getting injured so badly. This leads Bruce to go to another board member of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) – basically, this is Bruce’s tech guy. He built the Batmobile, and all the other equipment – such as the suit. Bruce tells him he needs a new suit; one with more mobility, something more “functional”.

After figuring out that Lau is the one behind the whole mob thing, Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman meet up. They try to decide whether or not they want to bring the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), into their operation – he’s been prying on Gordon to let him in. The next day, Lau retreats back to Hong Kong, so Batman and Gordon decide that they should let Dent in; the three of them come to the conclusion that, although China will not expedite one of their own for crimes in the US, Batman has no jurisdiction.

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 2

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 2

So, once Fox finishes Bruce’s new suit, he asks him about the possibility of jumping out of a plane, and getting back in…without having the plane land. Fox mentions an old idea that the military had, called “SkyHook” – Bruce tells him he likes the idea, and says to make it happen. So now, Batman goes to China – to retrieve Lau. He gets the job done pretty easily using his new flying suit, along with some remote charges and a sweet hand to hand battle. Then, with Lau in his hands, he grabs onto a hook (attached to a plane) which pulls him up into the air, and into the plane. Gordon arrives at the police department the next morning to find Lau, with a note pinned to him – “To: Lieutenant Gordon”.

At this point, the mobsters are pretty intimidated, and they are driven to agree to pay the Joker half their money to kill Batman. The Joker is pretty happy about this; and he tells all of Gotham, using a video recording which he sends to the news channels, that if Batman does not turn himself in (to the police), he will kill people every day. The Joker keeps his word, and goes as far as to kill off public officials, such as Police Commissioner Loeb (Colin McFarlane) and an attempt at the Mayor (Nestor Campbell). Bruce is preparing to turn himself in as Batman, when Dent himself takes the fall after speaking with reporters at a press conference.

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 3

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 3

While Dent is being transported to a holding cell, the Joker tries to take him down. Between Batman and Gordon, however, they manage to arrest the Joker. With him in custody, Gordon tries, unsuccessfully, to interrogate him – so he sends in Batman. The Joker tries to get Batman worked up, then he mentions Rachel, and that her and Dent are in separate buildings in different parts of town, each with bombs set to explode in five minutes. He gives him the addresses, and tells him that he must make a choice on which to save. Batman goes after Rachel, and sends Gordon and the rest of the police force after Dent.

However, upon his arrival, Batman realizes that the Joker gave them the wrong addresses – in trying to save Rachel, he actually went to save Dent. Gordon and the cops don’t make it in time to save Rachel. In the explosion, the left side of Dent’s face is incinerated. Meanwhile, back at the Joker’s holding cell, he uses his phone call to detonate a phone bomb planted in the chest of another inmate, and he escapes with Lau.

Next, we see Gordon visiting Dent in the hospital – asking why he’s refusing skin grafts. Then Dent turns his head, and we see the extent of the damage – his face is laid open in several places. He tells Gordon to recite the nickname that they used to have for him, screaming when Gordon refuses until he finally gives in – and calls him Harvey Two-Face.

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 4

The Dark Knight - alternate poster 4

The Joker chimes in again at this point and tells Gotham City that, if the man who is about to come forward and reveal Batman’s true identity (another Wayne Enterprises board member) is not killed within sixty minutes, he will blow up a city hospital. Naturally, the hospitals start evacuating – but as it turns out, this is just intended to be misdirection so that the Joker can pay a little visit to Dent. Naturally, Dent blames Rachel’s death on the Joker (along with Batman and Gordon). The Joker hands him a gun and points it at his own head; Dent flips his coin, which has had one of its head sides burned off, then there’s a smash cut out of the scene.

After a bit of speaking between Batman, Gordon, and other movie characters, we see that the Joker is still alive and well as he walks out of the exploding hospital – along with a bit of humor as his detonator malfunctions. Then we see Harvey confronting all the corrupt cops and mob bosses – flipping his coin with each one to determine their fate; heads and they live, tails and they die.

Meanwhile, we cut over to the Joker – and in a warehouse, we see a large mountain of money with Lau strapped to a chair on top, with the Joker pouring accelerant all over the pile. Another of the mobsters walks in, appalled, and the Joker tells him that he can do whatever he wants with his half; about how it isn’t about the money with the Joker, because all his tastes (gunpowder, Diesel fuel, bullets, etc) are very cheap. Gotham deserves a better kind of criminal, and he’s going to give it to them.

The Joker puts out another public message; at nightfall, the streets are going to be his, and anybody left in the city will be subject to his “game”. That evening, two ferries are boating away from Gotham, attempting to evacuate citizens – one carries inmates from the prison, and the other simply carries a bunch of people. As it turns out, though, the Joker already rigged the ferries with bombs; he wants to have a “social experiment” – each ferry has the detonator to blow up the other. They have fifteen minutes (until midnight) for one to be blown up, before he will blow them both.

After hearing this news, Bruce takes Lucius Fox to a mainframe room that he built – that rigs up all cell phones in the city to paint pictures of their surroundings on the screen matrix in that room, using sonar signaling. Fox voices his disapproval, saying how he’ll do Bruce this favor, but as long as that machine is at Wayne Enterprises, he will not be. Bruce tells him that that’s fine, but he needs to find the Joker, and to simply type his name in when he’s finished.

While Bruce goes out and gets ready to confront the Joker, we see the conflict between the citizens on the boats. The free citizens put it up for a vote, and end up with roughly a 3:1 ratio in favor of blowing the other boat. Meanwhile, on the inmates’ boat, a very large, black inmate convinces the captain to give him the detonator – saying that he’s going to do what the captain should’ve done ten minutes ago – and he throws it out the window. Back on the free citizens’ boat, one man makes a remark about how nobody wants to get their hands dirty – so he goes up and picks up the detonator, but can’t do it.

By now, Fox has found the Joker and he tells Bruce where he is – so Bruce, as Batman of course, goes and finds him, at the top of an unfinished skyscraper. He gets Gordon (newly appointed police commissioner) to hold off the SWAT team for a few minutes – and then figures out that the people in clown masks are, in fact, the hostages – but his suit was damaged so he can’t tell Gordon this. So he fights his way through a bunch of thugs and keeps the SWAT team at bay, until he finally reaches the Joker at the top. An epic battle ensues; ultimately, the Joker hangs upside-down from an elevator cable and admits that, although Batman was incorruptible, Dent was not, and that Dent’s madness has been unleashed.

Batman leaves him there, and finds Gordon and his family with Dent in the same building where the Joker blew up Rachel. Dent proceeds to use his coin to judge Batman, Gordon’s son, and himself; he sees random chance as the only fairness left in the world. He shoots Batman in the stomach, but before he can execute Gordon’s son’s fate, Batman tackles him over the side of the building, saving the boy.

Gordon and Batman descend to the ground where Dent lies; his head lying to the side, the scarred half showing. They decide that, if anybody finds out about Dent’s corruption and murders, the Joker would win. Batman insists that Gordon blame the murders on him, rather than allowing the city’s ray of hope, Dent, to be corrupted in the eyes of the public.

As the movie ends, we see Gordon destroying the Bat Signal, and issuing a manhunt for Batman. They try to chase him through some sort of a dark train yard, but he’s on the Bat Cycle, and simply outruns them. Then we cut to the credits.

Go see it. That’s all I’m going to say. I intend to see it again; nobody should go without seeing this movie ;)