‘Dark Knight’ is a long good-bye that’s worth the time

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Beginning with a misguided memorial tribute to the late Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and concluding with the kind of finale you might expect to see in the “Oceans” or “Bourne” series, “The Dark Knight Rises” would rise to the occasion sooner if director Christopher Nolan had shaved off about 30 minutes.

As we’ve come to expect with anything regarding the Batman, nothing is ever as it seems. Ruthlessly brutal, virtually indestructible and often indecipherably masked and muscled villain Bane (Tom Hardy) rigs an ingenious plot to elude his government captors and kidnap nuclear physicist Dr. Pavel (Alon Aboutboul). Bane and his multiple (and surprising!) accomplices plan Gotham’s reckoning in the form of a multi-mega-ton atomic bomb. The bomb-making components just happen to be stored at Applied Sciences, run by Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), who’s employed by the reclusive and eccentric millionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), aka Batman.

In addition to having to decide whether to come out of retirement (guess what he chooses), Wayne finds himself at odds with his faithful manservant Alfred (Michael Caine), becomes acquainted with the driven and orphaned detective John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and gets romantically tangled with millionaire Miranda (Marion Cotillard) and (possibly bisexualy) cat burglar Selina (Anne Hathaway). One of his female interests turns out to be good and the other very, very evil. Hathaway gets all the clever lines and bits, and she pulls them off impeccably.

Wayne suffers greatly at the meaty hands of Bane, in a tour de force performance of bitterness and revenge. Wayne is also tormented by his mentor Ra’s Al Gul (Liam Neeson), but championed by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).

As you can see, a lot has been crammed into nearly three hours of suspense and action, including fight and chase scenes that go on far too long.

“The Dark Knight Rises” may be the end of the trilogy, but there are hints that it’s far from the end of the franchise. As farewells go, the Dark Knight’s long goodbye is almost worth every minute.

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