This article doesn’t contain spoilers. Chill out.
The Riddler’s latest. It’s all about the Waynes.
As a matter of fact, it is all about Bruce Wayne. His family, parents, legacy, corruption and their deaths and the consequences of what followed for 20 years in the hellhole that is Gotham. This is not the Batman we are used to seeing on screen. Not Ben Affleck’s Brooklyn Brawler or Christian Bale’s playboy billionaire tech bro.
So, if you found yourself, sat in the dark of the theatre, waiting for the Bat to pop out of the shadows to take names and kick ass, you will be waiting for a while. Make no mistake, there are some very well-choreographed action sequences but this just isn’t that film. It’s a crime thriller and at the centre of it are two orphans, whose lives changed drastically the night Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered.
Both become symptoms of a diseased city and manifest themselves as a symbol of terror and chaos, exacting vengeance on the city that took everything from them in drastically different manners.
And while Paul Dano’s unsettling role as The Riddler warrants more words than I can spare here, we will be specifically talking about Robert Pattinson and how good he was as everyone’s favourite detective.
And detective is the right word, in case we have managed to forget that in the midst of a decade of over the top CGI fights. And this one is a neo-noir, styled to function around metaphors of the sewers; the rat, the bat and the mob.
Two years of nights have turned me into a nocturnal animal.
This is where the story begins, as Pattinson’s Batman narrates his journal to us, almost as if to give a little peek into his tortured existence as the bad guy other bad guys are afraid of. He is relatively new at this, having only done with it for a couple of years and his only motivation is his parents’ legacy, a dream to raise this city out of the sewers and into civilisation, except, the only weapon he feels is at his disposal, is the fear of his mark in the sky.
Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning. For them.
He lives for it, he thrives in it. It makes him a creature of omnipresence. He is sullen, quiet, an asocial insomniac who has no desire to follow into the suit of Bale or Affleck’s playboy billionaire trope. At least, he’s not there yet.
And while you do hear his voice a bit, most of his words are spoken for his ears only, a trait most of us wearing a mask for the last couple of years can testify to. And even though Andy Serkis’ Alfred hopes that he would use the name Wayne more often to carry on with what his father had envisioned for the city, this Bruce Wayne is just happy to be called ‘vengeance’ and get on with the night.
He’s too young to have come up with any ideologies to operate under and too naive to see the grey in the way Gotham functions. He sits on a perch, watching the city as its fearsome protector woefully unaware of the reality on the ground.
He literally has 3 people he probably trusts in the film- Alfred, Selina, and Jim Gordon. And even though, Zoe Kravitz is brilliant as the Cat and her chemistry with Batman really shines though, sometimes it feels a bit unnecessarily as the story progresses.
But it’s his relationship with Jim Gordon, that takes the cake, in my opinion. It’s brilliantly written, and executed to perfection. Gordon acts as a sort of moral compass, a beacon of honesty and good in the swamp that is Gotham City, both for Pattinson’s Batman and us. ‘The bad cop and the Batshit cop’ duo really works.
But as is the case with any Batman film since The Dark Knight was released in 2008, there is bound to be a comparison. And with great reluctance, I must admit, Pattinson’s portrayal of the masked vigilante seemed far more in tune with the character’s psyche than Bale’s Dark Knight. His skills are unpolished, his tech primitive even, and he gets his ass kicked quite a bit. Robert Pattinson’s Batman is limited in his capabilities even with prep time and it all works towards telling a good story without having to carry the burden of being a superhero film.
The one thing I could have done without were the innumerable subplots and exhausting monologues that outstay their welcome, and the last half an hour of the film that went towards evolving Vengeance into Hope, a symbol for another cape, one painted in red.
That said, I hope Pattinson gets his trilogy, for if the origin movie is any indication, we are in for one heck of a ride.