What a brooding pleasure it is to return to Christopher Nolan's Gotham City—if "pleasure" is the right word for a movie that gazes so deeply and sometimes despairingly into the souls of restless men. In The Dark Knight, the continuation of Nolan's superb 2005 Batman Begins, fair Gotham is a modestly cleaner, better-lit place, albeit still plagued by dangerous crazies like the Joker, a committed anarchist in a dusting of floury foundation and a smear of crimson lipstick. By now, you know that the Joker is played by Heath Ledger in the last role he completed before his death this past January. And it is perhaps the best compliment one can pay to this gifted young actor to say that his performance here would have cemented his legend even if he'd lived to see the film's release. He's the freakishly disturbing highlight of a very good show, in which Nolan once again explores the obsessions that have attended his work since Memento—chiefly the duality of man and the clash of opposing belief systems. Nolan also delivers the kick-ass goods, from an opening bank heist à la Michael Mann to a climactic episode of vehicular mayhem à la William Friedkin. So The Dark Knight will give your adrenal glands a workout, but it will occupy your mind, too, leading it down dim alleyways where most Hollywood movies fear to tread.
Christopher NolanChristian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Nestor Carbonell, Nathan Gamble, Anthony Michael HallJonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Bob KaneChristopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma ThomasWarner Bros. Pictures/Legendary