Good and evil. Supposedly diametric beings are deconstructed and turned on their heads in The Dark Knight, which has cemented Batman as the cutting-edge franchise in comic-book adaptations. Christopher Nolan’s latest film effortlessly combines eye-catching action with visceral emotion in an unpredictable blend of excellence.
The plot, at its most basic level, is just the Joker (Heath Ledger) wreaking havoc on Gotham while Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) struggles to strike a balance between his personal interest Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and his creation of Batman. Meanwhile, Wayne contemplates destroying Batman to give way to the new face of hope, hard-hitting crime-fighter, District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who also competes for Rachel’s affections. Also returning from Batman Begins is Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Lieutenant/Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Wayne Enterprise CEO Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).
The plot, on a more complex level, blurs the line between good and evil. To be sure, the Joker is evil, and Batman is good, but the line between the two is an ever-changing line in the sand. The Dark Knight, more than other superhero movie shows that there are real consequences to Batman’s actions, no matter how noble the intentions. Even if Batman acts for the greater good, people die under his watch, and sometimes because of it. This type of vigilante justice hasn’t gone unnoticed among the restless Gotham people.
Then there is the Joker, in a legendary performance by Ledger in his final appearance on film. His portrayal is so creepy, sinister and ominous that he captures and captives right away. But what truly makes his portrayal of the Joker is the depth and intensity that is given to his character. His primary goal is chaos, but it’s done in such a way as to penetrate to the depths of the human character. In one particularly ghastly deed, the Joker leaves two bombs on two separate passenger ferries with each boat given the opportunity to blow the other one out of the water. Who will be the first boat to blink first?