A serial killer kills Gotham City’s mayor, Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) in a gruesome manner. Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) brings in Batman/Bruce Wayne (Robert Patterson) to assist in the case. The rest of the police are against it.
The killer, The Riddler (Paul Dano), leaves riddles for Batman. Hence begins his game. He proceeds to kill the police commissioner (Alex Ferns) and later the district attorney (Peter Sarsgaard) at the mayor’s memorial. Batman finds out that these public officials were corrupt and had ties to the Gotham underworld.
At the Iceberg Lounge, he meets Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), a waitress and cat burglar. She becomes entwined in the case when her roommate Annika (Hana Hrzic) is taken. Annika is in a picture with the deceased mayor.
At the club we meet The Penguin (Colin Farrell). Later we meet his boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), who is Gotham’s crime boss. It turns out that Carmine is at the center of this case.
Bruce Wayne’s father set up a billion-dollar Gotham City Renewal Fund to help with Gotham’s renewal. After he was killed, Falcone along with the corrupt city officials wanted a piece of the fund, so Carmine sets up his chief competitor Sal Maroni for a big drug bust, which elevated everyone to their current positions, allowing Carmine to launder his crime money in the renewal fund and control the city.
The Riddler, a forensic auditor who worked for the fund, finds this out and decides to expose their crimes. He imagines that he and Batman want the same thing and includes him in his crusade. The Riddler finds out that they aren’t partners when Batman calls him insane. Batman discovers too late that The Riddler had one final act in his plan. Using social media to recruit followers, The Riddler sets truck bombs along the city’s seawall, when they are ignited it causes the city to flood. Inside the city arena where they are going to swear in the new mayor, Bela Reál (Jayme Lawson), his followers set up in the rafters to assassinate the new mayor and create further chaos.
Batman battles the assassins and saves the people in the arena. Batman realizes he has become a symbol of vengeance to people like The Riddler and his followers. To help the citizens of Gotham City, he decides to become a symbol of hope and actively takes part in rescuing people. Where in most of the movie, he moved in the dark, he now sees the first rays of the sun.
This is the first solo live action Batman movie since The Dark Knight Rises (2012). This isn’t a Batman origin story; we’re spared seeing Thomas and Martha Wayne gunned down in an alley again.
This Batman is in his second year, so he isn’t fully developed. Many people are calling this Batman, the “Emo Batman”. Patterson’s Bruce Wayne looks look a grownup goth kid. His relationship with Alfred (Andy Serkis) is rocky since he only cares about being Batman and won’t do the basic duties of being Bruce Wayne.
This Batman won’t kill, but he doesn’t mind laying a beatdown. He has instilled fear in the criminal element with them being scared that he’s in the shadows ready to deliver vengeance. His efforts have gone for naught; crime continues to go up. He’s withdrawn from society and is basically a recluse. It’s a big deal when Bruce shows up for the mayor’s memorial service, he only does it to see if he can spot the killer. Aside from Alfred, the only person he interacts with is Jim Gordon. Unlike other Batman movies, these two are equals and share a good working relationship. It shows Batman being the great detective (even though he doesn’t really solve the mystery).
The other person Batman strikes a relationship with is Selina Kyle. He’s immediately attracted to her but keeps her at a distance. She doesn’t know who is behind the mask, but they both feel the sexual tension. Selina is more than she appears, aside from becoming Catwoman, she is also the estranged daughter of Carmine Falcone. She and Bruce find out they have something in common, Carmine strangled her mother and possibly had Thomas and Martha killed. She wants to kill Carmine, but Batman won’t let her. Even though they have their differences, she comes to his aid during the showdown in the arena.
Batman also meets The Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot. He is the movie’s comic relief, and if you hadn’t seen the press tour you would not have guessed that Colin Farrell was under that makeup. He’s Carmine’s righthand man and he also runs the Iceberg Lounge. He and Batman get into it which leads to a thrilling car chase. One thing you can say for The Penguin, he knows his Spanish male and female pronouns.
The serial killer that Gordon and Batman are chasing is the Riddler, who is in the shadows most of the movie. In that way he is a lot like Batman and thinks that he and Batman are the same. He’s trying to clean up Gotham by killing corrupt officials, on this list is Bruce Wayne. He blames Bruce’s father for setting up the renewal fund to begin with, allowing Falcone and the corrupt city officials to use it for their own gain. He also hates Bruce because they are both orphans, but while Bruce had the sympathy of the public and lived in the lap of luxury, he was unknown and uncared for. He hates the system and wants to bring it down, not caring who he hurts. He’s creepy and sadistic. The Riddler in this movie was based on the Zodiac killer, and Dano’s Riddler is a long way from Jim Carrey’s Riddler.
It’s a Batman movie so you expect some action, and this movie does not disappoint. His fight scenes are brutal. Since his Batsuit is bulletproof, he doesn’t have to dodge bullets. Nothing fancy here, he’s not a martial artist, he’s a brawler. He takes and inflicts punishment; he wins because he’s able to inflict more punishment. This is exhibited in his fight on the subway platform with the gang, his fight in the nightclub, another cool hallway fight, and his escape from the police station, which includes him using a parachute suit to escape. The fight in the arena was okay, but it wasn’t as thrilling as the other fights. The best action scene was the car chase, which laughs at the Fast and Furious franchise. This car chase was thrilling and exciting and wasn’t as fantastical as the FF stunts. It felt grounded even though you won’t see anything like it on your commute to work. The new Batmobile is a hotrod from hell and I loved it.
Like Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder, Matt Reeves’ Batman is dark and gritty. Unlike the other movies, it’s closer to being a film noir. The villains aren’t colorful like Tim Burton and Joel Shumaker’s movies. Every scene was dark and rainy, to reflect the corruption and rot of Gotham City. No one is wholly a good guy, including Thomas Wayne, who tried to keep a reporter from reporting about Martha’s mental illness. He asks for Falcone’s help in keeping the reporter silent, not knowing he was going to have the reporter killed. Falcone did it to put Thomas in his pocket, when Thomas refused and promised to go to the police, he and Martha were killed. It’s not 100% certain that Falcone had them killed, but it’s got to be 98% at least. Bruce must deal with his own legacy, and how his family played a part in Gotham being the cesspool it is. What’s great about this movie, instead of just wallowing in the gloom and doom, the movie has Batman begin his pivot from just enacting vengeance to being someone who can bring hope to Gotham. It opens the possibility that Bruce Wayne can emerge from Batman’s shadow, and both sides of him can help his beloved community.
As you can probably tell, I really liked this movie. It was well cast and directed. The action was done well, and the musical score was excellent. The writing wasn’t as strong as the acting, directing, cinematography, set design, makeup, and everything else I’m not listing. The script was good, but just not to the same standard of the rest of the movie. It was too long at nearly three hours. The movie felt like it was winding down after The Riddler was arrested and Batman confronted him at Arkham, but then we get the last act of Gotham being flooded. It was important because we got to see Batman decide to become a symbol of hope, but this last act wasn’t as good as the rest of the movie. We don’t learn much about the other characters. Since Bruce is so closed off, there are no interactions between anyone with him except Alfred, and he wasn’t in the movie that much. It was a long movie that had a lot going on, so there wasn’t a lot of time to follow anyone but Batman. Even though it was a 3-hour movie, I wasn’t bored and remained engaged throughout. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s well done. If you’re a Batman fanboy, it might be your favorite movie of the year, if you’re a causal fan, it is well worth your time.