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The Dark Knight Review

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by Chris McEneany Nov 27, 2008

  • Movies review


    The Dark Knight Review

    Right now it seems as if there is no-one left alive who hasn't already seen The Dark Knight. The movie was an unparalleled success on its theatrical run - worldwide - and judging from forum expectations and the baited-breath anticipation for its Blu-ray release, that fervour has shown absolutely no signs of diminishing. Watching it now on the small screen somehow enhances its impact, bringing its pain, chaos and tragedy hurtling into a more intimate environment. I loved it at the cinema - something like seven times - and, if possible, I love it even more at home. There are faults and niggles - which I'll come to - but the important thing is emotion. It doesn't matter how great a screenplay might be, or how powerful a performance. If it doesn't get inside you and grip you, challenge your views and make you look at, and feel about things differently afterwards ... then it is not a masterpiece.

    Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight is a masterpiece.

    What follows is an expanded, more detailed version of the cinema review I wrote a while ago. Water has flowed under the bridge since I first saw it, impressions may have altered. More movies have come along and past favourites have also had reappraisals since, but watching The Dark Knight again has delivered that same gut-punching clout of exhilaration, overwrought suspense and full-on, immediate, urbanised adrenaline. The film was, and still is, a celluloid shock-wave that refuses to play by the rules, breaking down genre barriers and trampling the conventions of the action-thriller like Batman's doomed Tumbler cartwheeling, ablaze through a Joker-infested Gotham.

    Here we go again, folks.

    “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”

    After the Joker's irresistible calling card at the finale of Batman Begins - “I'll look into it” - The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's now block-busting mega-success sequel to Bruce Wayne's war against injustice roars in with a far more serious tone, a grimmer premise than many will be expecting and a deadly, shadowy reflection of the world we live in today.

    All hail Batman, for his grandest and his most heart-rending moment is here.

    If the first film was about Wayne finding a purpose, an identity and the tools with which to wage his war, then The Dark Knight is about the consequences of such a struggle, its cause and effect. As damning as it is, the point made is that no crusade, no matter how noble or valiant or necessary, is without fallout. And the collateral damage wrought about by Batman's epic grudge-match with the Joker is as inevitable as it is ghastly. Contemporary world-issues are obviously alluded to - from the war on terrorism and the misguided ineptitude of “have-a-go-heroes” to the ethics of covert surveillance - and the message is a powerfully scary one indeed. Nothing done in the name of justice or to preserve decency will ever work in the long run, and as the retaliatory nature of evil and wanton anarchy spreads, what was once an inspiration and a guiding light is compelled to become just as hard-line and despicable. Our salvation, it would seem, lies in extremism. Oh boy, that's a pulverising and difficult fact to take and the thing is this, it took a summer action movie based on a comic-book character to make it more relevant, more immediate than any shocking news bulletin or sanctimonious political statement, any hard-hitting, gong-nabbing drama about Afghanistan, Guantanamo, the War On Terror or any sweaty-jowelled counter-culture exposé of governmental corruption.

    “Any psychotic ex-boyfriends I should be aware of?”

    “Oh, you have no idea.”

    Bruce Wayne may have thought that Batman could simply clean up Gotham and then he could hang up his cape and cowl and live the good life expected of a multi-billionaire, especially as the new kid on the block, the dazzling White Knight, DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) has the same noble intentions and, even when playing by the rules, is putting an, ahem, dent in the corruption and criminal outrage that has overwhelmed the city. But, even as he admires the sheer courage and determination of this new shining light, circumstances and that awful concept of “escalation” are about to bring Gotham, whimpering, to its knees. Emerging from seemingly from out of nowhere comes the Joker (Heath Ledger), a minor-league oddity with aspirations of madcap grandeur. A man of mystery, myth and deceit, he appears to play the mob off against one another, but his far-reaching scheme is one of complete anarchy, death and destruction. He doesn't want the money. As he says, “Gotham needs a new breed of criminal.” But one pesky thing keeps getting in his way. No, not the law - he runs rings around Gotham's dubious finest - but the Batman. And, thus, one of fiction's greatest personality-clashes is brought stunningly to life via Machiavellian intrigue, heinous life and death decisions, manic malevolence, homicidal humour and, of course, good old brute force.

    “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object.”

    Whilst the movie is certainly over-shadowed by the lingering tragedy of Heath Ledger's death, it is so much stronger than the ghoulish notoriety that heralded it. But the fact remains that Ledger puts in the performance of his lifetime. It is easy to say that, since we are all willing and wanting some afterlife glory to surround him, but, quite simply, this is a performance that will be studied, imitated and referenced as long as actors portray villains. It seems such a horrible shame that we will never see or hear Ledger talk of how he tackled the role in interviews, never see just how profoundly the Joker would have shaped his career. And what a job he's done. I sincerely hope he's having the last laugh because this is such an incredible tour de force of psycho-babble, riotous devilment and manic monologuing that two things happen as you watch him shuffle, smirk, lick his ever-dry lips and murder his way through two-and-a-half hours of sheer bedlam. The first is that, as much as you adore the bizarre things he is doing, you genuinely fear what he will do next. Acutely rehearsed, I'm sure, but Ledger gives such an unhinged impression of sheer improvisation that every scene he is in is alive with nervous tension. You can almost see all those around him - some poor hoods and the odd kidnap victim especially - actually glancing past the camera at Nolan and urging him to say “Cut!”, although, thinking about it now, that would probably be the last thing they'd want to hear as Ledger's Joker leans in with one of his many, many blades and asks them how they reckon he got his scars. The second is that you keep on wishing for instant replay. His dialogue and his unique delivery of it is something to savour. Even when being hurled around a cell by his caped nemesis, his retorts, rasping giggles and insinuations are gone before you can mentally jot them down. But like a bitter after-taste they leave a distinct impression on you. Of course, with the film on disc, you can replay such insane eloquence, yet my advice, ironically, is not to. The power of his performance lies not in words or syllables, but in the happily-cruel ambience that bleeds from his every pore, and within every little flicker of those eyes behind his smudged, multi-coloured visage. He is not wild, however. The Joker is a calculated and calm manipulator of will and emotion. Nothing thrown against him fazes him, for he not only has an answer for everything, but has certainly set traps further down the line that, no matter what you do, you cannot avoid. He always has the upper hand, always thinks an hour, a day, a week ahead of where you are. The pencil-trick has fast become legendary but Ledger's greasepaint bogeyman is the volatile stuff of nightmare - not only willing to go the extra mile in order to create pure chaos, but positively thriving on its ghastly fall-out. Laughing in the face of Batman's colossal rage and then sickeningly taunting Det. Stephens (and excellent Keith Szarabajka who literally seethes with hatred for the killer of his “six” friends) without any shred of conscience, everything, despite his claims of anarchy, happening for a reason.

    You've got to love that little twitchy air of fake puzzlement when a series of explosions haven't quite been dramatic enough for him, though, and his giddy slide down a pyramid of mob money is a slice of man-child glee second only to that terrific way in which he introduces himself to an agitated Mob - all together now, “Ooh-hoo-hee ...ha-ha ... ho...ah ... hee-har. And I thought my jokes were bad.” And it is another funny thing that what Ra's Al-Ghul threatened in Begins, of having Gotham tear itself apart from fear, finally comes true under the mischievous hand of the Joker, who is extremely adept at driving the population to a state of homicidal panic with his little pranks and games, feeding its own inner discriminations nitro-glycerine and igniting them with mass-paranoia.

    “Let her go!”

    Very poor choice of words.”

    Many still cite Tim Burton's Joker as the definitive live-action version of the character. But whereas Jack Nicholson, the man, dominates the film and straps the character onto his own persona, Ledger is brave enough to let the character consume him. Thus, in Nolan's interpretation, the Joker, himself, seems to take over, denying any possibility of star-ego a chance. Just look at Ledger's clown flinging his head out of the window of a stolen police car, emulating a dog dumbly basking in high-speed abandon and positively drinking in the sensations and euphoria of escape and freedom. But listen to his speech to Batman in the interrogation room as he expertly de-constructs our hero, making it wholly apparent that we are pinning our hopes on someone who is as much a freak as the Joker - just separated by a loose string of increasingly battered morals. See also his startlingly funky turn when, masquerading as the daftest-looking nurse in Gotham, he metaphorically stitches-up Harvey, hard-wiring him into a scheme that will take the rest of the film to play out. It is clear that he is both instinctual and intellectual, though the precision and mechanics of his planning tend to prove that the majority of his psyche is thoughtful, his brain constantly whirring with the creation of a maze-like series of deadly dramas. Another stand-out moment that allows us absolutely incisive, scalpel-sharp entry into his dark soul comes when he strides, machine-gun blazing like a 30's mobster towards his nemesis ploughing down the street at him on the Batpod, yelling at him half in anger and half in challenge, urging Batman to break his own rule, urging him to run him down. There is something here that reminds me of Mel Gibson's mad Martin Riggs, in the first Lethal Weapon, kicking-off on a drug-dealer who is holding a gun to his head as panicking cops encircle them and scream for the weapon to be put down. Ledger finds exactly the same suicidal-cum-homicidal limbo-land in which to exist - the only difference being that he is able to stretch this startling trait out a hell of lot further.

    “Okay, pretty-boy - hands up!”

    But Ledger isn't the only one to put in a towering performance. Bale is, as always, on excellent and searingly intense form. I've always maintained that he and Russell Crowe - who are, and not by coincidence, my favourite actors - continually jockey for the position at the top. Both are so unbelievably committed to not only playing a character, but becoming that character so indelibly that they are in danger of us getting used to such magnetic, conflicted and charismatic performances. It is easy now, especially in Bale's case, to overlook the little things. His flippant, casual approach to Wayne's public persona is spot-on and a definite deflection from the real character that, in this instalment, is definitely beginning to assert its domination over his heart and soul. Nobody would believe this rich-kid, fly-by-night really was flying by night, would they? But there are little darts of the deeper self allowed to flicker in those dark eyes. A dinner-table discussion that Wayne uses as a social ploy in order to get to know Harvey Dent a little better results in casual asides that probe the nature of Gotham's public knight and becomes a genuine treatise on the meaning of modern-day heroism. The slight nod towards a treacherous fool whose life he has just saved. The magnificent way in which he levels a goon with his own shotgun and then calmly, efficiently takes it apart and simply discards its useless parts on the floor in one fluid movement. And if the once-reassuring relationship between himself and Michael Caine's Alfred now feels a little disjointed and brushed aside, it is only because there is literally so much else going on. Besides, we do get to learn a little of the loyal butler's covert military background, Alfred's little story about he and “some friends” of his having adventures in the jungle quite clearly pertaining to his unspoken SAS days. It is also evident that Bale has not piled on the pounds to fill the suit this time, instead trimming off the excess muscle (rather like Daniel Craig did for his second outing as Bond) - in fact, in the one shirt-off moment, he looks a lot more his usual spindly self. What would be nice, in fact, would be to see him enjoying the ladies that his daytime playboy picks up with ease once in a while, like his diversionary night-out with those two awesome sex-kittens taking an impromptu bath in Begins - although, admittedly, such debauchery would probably not fit the tone that Nolan is aiming for. There is also precious little opportunity for Bale to, in the words of Dr. Crane, “lighten up”. No brilliant little drunken act this time ... “Stop smiling - it's not a joke.” Too much is at stake here.

    But as the Bat? Whooaa-boy. People have complained that the character of Wayne, so well-drawn in Begins, is now swallowed totally by the Bat and that the Bat, in fact, is nothing more than a predictable foil to Ledger's far more interesting Joker. It is naturally difficult to keep up with the bad guy, especially one so alarmingly fascinating as the Joker, but Bale's Dark Knight, complete with verbal subwoofer in place, delights in fabulously iconic counter-attacks to Ledger's every move - the black-booted Yin to Joker's day-glo Yang. Witness a high-speed smash into a wall, or a death-defying glide from a Hong Kong high-rise for a spectacular snatch 'n' grab mission. Grin at the sadism of this film's extension to the Flass “drop-from-a-height” hard-line style of questioning that shatters legs with a raw crunch. And, speaking of questioning, what about the epic interrogation room confrontation between our boy and the Joker? WOW. Bale's streamlined intensity arrowed into a blistering salvo of brutal - yet futile - rage. The simply delicious angle of it being that, even as his face is batted about, the Joker has the odds stacked in his favour the whole time. But it is in the final searing moments when Bale's sad depth burns through the cowl and really moves, more than making up for a somewhat truncated spell of bereavement earlier on that, if I'm honest, doesn't come across as well, or as emotionally as it should have done.

    “He locked up half of the city's criminals - and he did it without wearing a mask. Gotham needs a hero with a face.”

    Bat-fans and critics still maintain that Aaron Eckhart's White Knight is the main thrust of the story, and to a certain extent this is true - but although his is the one definite and undisputed character arc in the film, this element is part and parcel of the Joker's grand plan, so it is really our painted terrorist's tale, through and through. However, Eckhart works wonders with the role. His All-American looks and gung-ho, take-on-all-comers approach a breath of fresh air in the otherwise stagnant fugue of Gotham. Punching-out a mob stooge in the dock is an immediate message but the film-making Nolan brothers are at pains to make his journey - a journey with a destination that we all already know - one that still has plenty of twists and turns. In fact, it is to the writers' and Eckhart's credit that, even though we know what will become of Harvey Dent, it is actually remarkably easy to forget his fate as you watch the film unfold. Fully-rounded and immediately charismatic, we understand the attraction and glory of his campaign and can't help but applaud him. He has the city's salvation at his fingertips and the steady dependability that can even win the heart of the very girl that Bruce Wayne holds so dear. The inexorable slide of destiny plays dreadful tricks, though, and Eckhart's sensational ability to become a monster is especially noteworthy in a film were seemingly everyone has a dark and demented side. He produces such rage and moral confliction, such hellish turmoil that you truly despair when his guiding light is extinguished. Those patented coin-flips are great moments, not as cartoonic as those by Tommy Lee Jones in the same role a good few years ago, but certainly more dramatic, with Eckhart's Two-Face as totally at the mercy of what chance decides as his victims.

    “The Joker's just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash.”

    Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon is marvellously fleshed-out into a prime cog not just in the wheel of Gotham's corrupt belly but in the greater emotional end-game that Nolan is dragging us towards. No longer the bumbling patsy who can, luckily, “drive stick” for the Bat, he is a hugely important mover and shaker throughout the story. But this time around he is not untouchable, and it is perhaps the threat that comes his way that is the most shocking of all. Gordon is put through the wringer and Oldman takes his likeable Lt. and runs the gamut with him, creating a version of the time-worn character that is potent, pro-active and always impressive. Although determined to come across as tired and jaded, there is a fine sense of selfless energy exuding from him. Maggie Gyllenhaal does remarkably well stepping into the high-heels of Katie Holmes, too. As love-interest and confidante, Rachel Dawes, her bemusement at Bruce's clowning-around is more convincing than Holmes could ever have been and her pivotal scenes are lent a sensitivity that the former star would have struggled with. It is still kind of a thankless role, though, despite the importance of it to the surrounding characters and the plot, but Gyllenhaal does enough to engage and convince through moments of high risk and dirty, low-down terror. Morgan Freeman returns to the role of Lucius Fox with a different demeanour this time out. A cheerful sidekick previously, Fox now has a definite disdain for the escalation that he sees taking place around him, almost as though he knows that he, unwittingly at first, has had a hand in the greater terror and jeopardy that now threaten his city. Freeman does well, too. His realisation that things have gone too far - even though they may have done so for the right reasons - is brief, but extremely powerful. One lingering and forlorn look at the technology he created having been usurped and re-tooled, Frankenstein-like, into a virtual monster, is icily pertinent. You can see how much he reluctantly admires the possibilities and how, for a second, he is actually tempted by such power. It's just a look - an almost imperceptible nod and those stately eyes drinking in a turning point in his life - but it works wonders.

    “By the way, the suit wasn't cheap. You oughta know, you bought it! Hee-hee.”

    Nolan, here, aims high in the action stakes and not least because he chose to shoot set-piece sequences with those huge and noisy IMAX cameras with the intention of hauling the audience fully into the proceedings. The first film had escapades aplenty - with the introduction of the Batmobile via that spectacular chase (“He's flying on rooftops!”) - but arguably, Nolan botched the fight scenes that are so integral to the Bat's meting-out of rough and immediate justice. All quick-cuts and obscured angles, wrought about to evoke confusion, speed and a residual imprint, I'm sure, but still unsatisfying to those of us who want to see some of that ferocity from our avenger. Well, in The Dark Knight, he goes some way to correcting that. Perhaps not enough - melees are still a little confusing and never long enough - but there are a few combos thrown by the Bat that are a joy to behold. There is one serious head-knock that surely looks as though it has snapped a neck and some of the best-seen moves are definitely during the early Scarecrow sequence, although he gets a tad more savage in mobster-Maroni's nightclub when taking out Eric Roberts' protective circle of bouncers. Perhaps something of a let-down is the initial confrontation between the Bat and the Clowns at the fund-raiser. Despite a neat Rosa Klebb-riff with the flick-blade in the Joker's shoe, the skirmish is clumsy and over far too quickly. The new invention of the Bat-pod - its emergency reveal is a terrific moment - was something that I initially had reservations about, but it works just fine in the movie. Sweeping through traffic and sliding around obstructions literally has you rolling right along with it in your seat. And check out the majestic wall-crawl and spin-round that it performs at one victorious stage. The epic SWAT convoy vs Joker in a semi is the stuff of set-piece mayhem junkie's dreams. No daft cops bicker-bantering about what a Batmobile looks like, nor curiously desolate streets this time around. Nolan beefs-up his major action-showcase with capable, but terrified elite policemen, some wince-inducing collisions and the eye-popping delight of the big rig upending itself. He even supplies a surreal and nightmarish image to foreshadow the events to come, with the awesome sight of a burning fire-truck blocking the road. But, whereas such events in Begins were cheerfully episodic and contained, Knight delivers its exploits within the broader picture, layering them with a deadly tension that does not get dispersed come the end of each particular sequence. Nolan is not interested in immediate cathartic release, he wants the adrenaline to keep on pumping. Thus, while he may be structuring his plot via continual Prestige bluffs and sleights of hand (he and his brother, Jonathon co-wrote the screenplay and are hell-bent on delivering a narrative that keeps revealing a twist, a scam, and a fiendish sham for every crunch, boom and wham-bam), he keeps the pace with an almost never-ending succession of cliff-hangers, revelations and yet more jeopardy. Vast street scenes deliver a real-life grandeur - a funeral procession really pushing the boat out - and, speaking of boats, the awful catch-22 of the poor ferries lying stricken on the dark Gotham water whilst Batman zeros-in on the bad guys, but is forced to fight the good guys instead, reveals a director who is now totally in control of both the global picture as well as the personal, and able to entwine the two extremes perfectly.

    “I know the truth. There's no going back. You've changed things forever.”

    “Then why do you want to kill me?”

    “Ha ... I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? You complete me.”

    With Batman bounced around Gotham at the Joker's beck and call, much like a nuclear-powered take on Scorpio leading Dirty Harry on a wild goose chase, it often seems as though he has to be in two places at once. Gotham, robbed of its original Gothic trappings in Begins, now features in the saga much more than ever before, but it is a real city and not at all a hyper-stylised environment. Even the borderline fantastical devices such as the monorail, Arkham Asylum, the Narrows and, crucially, the Bat-cave have been dislodged in favour of massive streets, towers of glass and steel, packed hospitals and police stations, and daylight floods a great many more sequences than previously. Though shedding light on Gotham doesn't hamper the darkness that it thrives on. The Joker is the plague-carrying rat to Gotham's low-rent tenement - his touch, his face on a TV screen, his voice enough to shake the city to its core, infecting it forever-more. The Hollywood staple of scene-changes illustrated by sweeping aerial views is given the added kick by those immense IMAX cameras, Gotham enveloping us as never before.

    I've already covered the score for the film from returning composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard in a separate review for the CD release, but it should be stated that their thunderously foreboding music hits the perfect note for this Greek Tragedy. Electrifyingly sinister whenever the Joker is on-screen, literally sizzling with raw unpredictability, and ominously eloquent elsewhere, the new score takes the established themes from Begins and laces them up with enough angst and anxiety to fill Arkham Asylum. A final speech and montage becomes incredibly affecting with the new “emotional” take on the main theme and much of the film's vigour is derived by the pounding insistence of Zimmer's percussive batteries.

    “More copycats with guns last night, Alfred.”

    “Maybe you can hire them and take the weekend off.”

    The film's emphatic accolades have already been uttered. The Greatest Comic-book Hero Movie Of All-Time. One of the best films ever made. The critical acclaim goes on and on. And if you think you're going to hear something from me that will rock that glittering boat - man, have you come to the wrong place! The Dark Knight is a masterpiece. A visual triumph and a saga so compellingly wrought that, come the devastating finale, I am still exhausted and shell-shocked, even after all the times I've seen it. Yes, this really is that good. Coming from a multiple-Bat-review fan like me, that probably isn't particularly surprising to hear, but the crucial thing about all this is that, for the first time, a film-maker has actually run with the very mood, trauma and danger that makes this hero so special, so rare. Nolan is unafraid to break the rules of summer action-formula. Unafraid to mess with your preconceptions. Unafraid to intimidate, upset and disturb his audience. In this day and age - and The Dark Knight is very much a movie for this day and age - this sort of thing takes balls of steel. Sam Raimi may have given Spidey a wonderful cinematic spin that stayed faithful to the duality of the hero and the nerd. Bryan Singer may have managed to enthral with his ensemble X-Men franchise, though he still has a lot to prove with Superman. Tim Burton wove gothic splendour with his interpretation of Batman, but Christopher Nolan has found the heart and soul of not only his main character, but of all those associated with him ... and had the amazing courage to rip them out and make us care about them in ways that those other directors could only dream about. Barely fantasy, The Dark Knight is urban realism pushed to its extremes ... and let's just pray that no-one out there takes on-board the Joker's “world without rules” ideology because his lethal doctrine is not at all far-fetched, and his fiercely charismatic willingness to go right over the edge just for the sheer hell of it will be intoxicating to some people.

    “Ooh, you got a little fight in you ... I like that.”

    “Then you're gonna love me!”

    Without fear of hyperbole and overstatement and especially without any shred of shame, I will admit that the end of this film almost broke me. Where it leaves us, and the gut-wrenching sacrifice that it takes to get us there, chokes me still. Batman Begins offers us hope. The Dark Knight shows us just how fragile that hope is by leading us the edge of the abyss and dangling right over it. You can have your disposable summer fluff - shallow escapism that means nothing, says nothing and does nothing but flicker away in superficial ignorance of the world around it - but films like The Dark Knight and Blonde Bond's second brutal mission, Quantum Of Solace are necessary, valid and downright crucial. I said the first time around that this is a Batman that could and should exist. But this film shows emphatically what would happen if he did. A gaggle of misguided copybats, notwithstanding, it is us that would tear him down in the long run, whatever good he did us. Our hero-worship is worthless in other words - and possibly downright dangerous. Quite what this says about our society I shudder to think, and a psychologist could have a field day with the ironic parallels of us, movie-fans, flocking to see our hero setting the record straight and then tut-tutting and trying to forget the next outrage committed on our streets. The Dark Knight confronts issues big and small, but most emphatically it approaches the situations that we all may encounter in an increasingly dangerous world. Does it give us any answers? Any solutions? Of course not. But, most potently and cuttingly, it shows us how dreadful and never-ending crime and violence really are no matter what tactics are used against them.

    It doesn't leave us in a happy place, but that's entirely the point.

    Does this film deserve 10 out of 10? Of course it does. It dares to break the mould. It confronts very real, very major issues and it doesn't offer one-note, sappy Hollywood reactionary solutions to them. Cause and effect. Actions and consequences. Everything has a price and from now on, you'll never look at this genre the same way again. This is the most atypical, intelligent and socially aware blockbuster that I've seen and the fact that it features my favourite hero of all time catapults it way ahead of the crowd. I gave Batman Begins a very high 9 out of 10 for its fantastic revitalising of the Bat and this is so much better that the scale just doesn't seem to apply any more. This is ruthless film-making that cannot be fully appreciated from merely one viewing. Luckily, you now have the opportunity to experience and study its cerebral stature, raw power and gut-punching emotional wallop again and I think you will find that it only gains strength each time.

    “Set the dogs on me ...” is a line, part of a martyr's speech that is poetic, noble and heartbreaking, that sends shivers down my spine. Come fade-out, I was barely able to breathe, let alone move the first time I saw the film - and this reaction, a jumble of sadness, excitement and broken pride that is a curious, but satisfying mix, still buffets me. I said that you wouldn't see a more relentless, remorseless, emotionally damaging film this year. - and I'll bet that you haven't.

    Ledger's haunting epitaph.

    Nolan's triumph.

    The Dark Knight. You need to see this. Again.