Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises - Third Pass

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Dark Knight Rises poster

The Dark Knight Rises (Third-pass review)
165 mins / Dir. Christopher Nolan

Gotham. Sunlight gleams on the upper floors of skyscrapers, casting a golden glow around the rooftops, and reflecting down to the streets below. It's the end of the afternoon, or early evening at latest, and the Stock Exchange is still open, the city's financiers are hard at work, trading shares to make a profit for their respective companies, and raise the profile of Gotham as a whole. Inside, as two traders exchange speculative smalltalk while getting their shoes polished, a motorcycle courier enters and is buzzed through the security barrier. A supervisor tells him he has to remove his helmet for security reasons. The courier complies. Hell erupts now.
After disposing of the security staff, the masked mercenary known as Bane walks onto the main trading floor, his armed support team already in place. In a hail of gunfire he gains the attention of everyone that hadn't already noticed something was amiss. Bane approaches a young, terrified, but petulantly defiant trader. "This is a stock exchange!", he spurts, "There's no money here for you to steal!". The mercenary is unperturbed "Oh? Then why are you people here?" he retorts before slamming the yuppie into a console and using his credentials to open the computer. This is when the real work takes place. Bane's hacking team gain hardwired access to the trading program, and place several high-risk transactions in Bruce Wayne's name, using his stolen thumb-print as verification. The investments they make are almost guaranteed to fail, bankrupting Wayne and placing his company into crisis, whereby Wayne Enterprises board member John Daggett can use one of his other companies to subsume Wayne Ent and use the company for his own ends. "How long will the uploads take?", Bane asks his technologically adept henchman. "Eight minutes..." he confirms, and sets the automated program in place. We see a timer on the otherwise nondescript TFT screen, and a percentage indicator slowly increases above it.
Outside, the sunlight has disappeared and rain is beginning to fall on the now-grey streets. Alarms inside the Stock Exchange have alerted the police, who are arriving in their droves. Whether this is a robbery or a hostage situation is in dispute, and Deputy Commissioner Foley decides the best course of action in the interim is to cut the cabling to the building's cell-tower while they await contact with the criminals. Back on the trading floor, this move has let Bane's team know they have company outside. "Looks like they've taken out the wire", the lead-hacker reports. Bane takes this in. "Then it's time to go mobile!" he informs them. The upload is switched to wireless, and the raiders prepare to exit the building.
At the main entrance in the grey early evening, the assembled GCPD points its guns toward the doors, where a commotion is beginning to form inside. The doors swing open, and traders and staff members begin to swarm out on to the street, with Foley's call to his men to hold fire. Suddenly from behind the doors, three motorcyclists burst through the crowd still exiting the building, each with a hostage / human-shield riding pillion. The lead biker is Bane, following is his hacker associate, and another member of his team, all riding in the same general direction, but hoping to pull a police pursuit in different directions if the need arises. The police have begun to erect roadblock-ramps, thinking the criminals would be escaping in one four-wheeled vehicle, but the bikes clear these easily, and they're hastily lowered so that a chasedown can begin.
As predicted, the police have no knowledge of which biker takes priority, and they attempt to catch all three, although they're fairly sure the one in the lead is Bane. Racing through the undercity, we see the hacker take his tablet computer out of his bag to check on the upload; he still needs more time. We cut to the interior of a pursuing police car, as the officers inside notice the surrounding streetlights dip out and they're momentaily plunged into darkness, the result of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse device. A thundering growl approaches them from behind, and a vehicle with two massive wheels roars out of the night... the BatMan has returned. For the first time in eight years, Gotham's dark knight races through the rain-wet streets on the Batpod, chasing an adversary that only he stands a chance of catching. His brings his first target off his bike, leaving him for the police to arrest, and sets after his second - the hacker carrying the tablet that's in the process of bankrupting Bruce Wayne. Batman dismounts the rider, and pulls the computer out of his backpack in time to see the upload complete. Time has run out and the transactions have been made. Nothing more can be done from here, and the only option for Batman is to flee the police.
Bane has escaped both pursuers, and the Deputy Commissioner's priorities change, now. Ever the career-cop, and with the recent revelation that Commissioner Gordon will soon be put out to pasture by the mayor, he decides that the armed robbers aren't as great a priority as usurping Gordon's position by achieving what he failed to do: apprehend Batman. All units are diverted into chasing the vigilante through Gotham's streets, and Batman is finally cornered in the dead-end of an unlit side street. The police wait at the junction, knowing that their quarry is trapped, and that one way or another he'll have to emerge from the darkness.
As Foley is about to address Batman over a loudhailer, an engine starts up, and two piercing blue headlights stab out of night. Headlights that are too high off the ground to be the bike they chased in there...

Now, there are several things that bug me from this particular set-piece.
• The notion that a group of elite hackers can only access the stock exchange computers from inside the building, in this day and age, is comical. The entire point of the trading system is that people don't have to be in the same room, and even if a hardwired connection was needed (which is wasn't, they went wireless), they could have surreptitiously entered the system with far greater ease, even out-of-hours if they'd falsified times as well.
• It's ridiculous to believe that any trading performed from that room during the time of an armed raid would be allowed to stand. The later assertation that 'it'll take time to prove fraud' is a complete falsehood as all the raiders were unmasked, and there will be no evidence of Bruce Wayne on the premises other than a convenient thumbprint on the only item that requires it.
• How did Bane and his goons get the three bikes inside the building? He walks in from the street at the start of the scene, and his minions are already in place in there. Unless he has other people to bring bikes into reception areas constantly following him around?
• How can the standard motorcycle helmet we see Bane wearing fit over his face-mask? They're not exactly designed to leave a lot of wiggle-room, and it doesn't look especially bulky or unusual.
But I can brush those aside if I have to. They don't make any sense from the surface, but they're easy to skim over. No, what really boils my piss is this: How come Gotham goes from broad daylight to pitch-black night in eight minutes? The race against time is a recurring theme, literally and metaphorically, in the Nolan Batmanverse, and they make a point of giving visual and verbal indicators that eight minutes is the timescale, here. Fuck it, less than eight minutes. The timer's already on its way when Bane's bikers leave the Stock Exchange in daylight, and when Batman joins in it's dark. Everywhere. Dark. What the actual fuck? In order for night to fall that quickly, the Earth would have to be cube-shaped.
And it's no better later on in the film when Batman and Catwoman have their final talk before trying to stop the bomb*. They're talking in darkness when he tells her that they have a 45-minute window before detonation, and the next thing you know, it's daylight. Broad daylight.

It's not that big a deal though, really. Not worth, say, writing over 1300 words for, or anything...


*Don't even get me started on a bomb which is described as "becoming gradually more unstable", yet the uranium breakdown can somehow be timed to the very second with a clock on the side. A device that's been degrading to explosion-point for four months, yet 10 minutes before it's due to go off, can be thrown around in a 40-ft container as the truck makes a 20-ft drop onto concrete with no adverse effects. A nuclear device with a 6-mile blast radius that can fly to the horizon (ie 3 miles) and detonate without still taking out Gotham, or causing a tidal-wave that would take out Gotham. Actually, the bomb might annoy me more than the day/night thing, but that would make more sense, so I can't have it as my Major Beef™.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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