Cinevista : Batman begins
The ultimate hoodie is back, in body armour, not Lycra, in a film directed by Christopher Nolan — the smartest and most exciting British director for many years — who gave us the disturbing thrillers ‘Following’, ‘Memento’ and ‘Insomnia’. There is, however, little in this latest edition of Batman stylistically to show that Nolan was in charge — apart from a cameo for ‘Following’ star Lucy Russell, as a smart-set socialite drawling her approval for Batman’s rough justice. (You’d much rather have seen Russell as the love interest, and not the callow childhood sweetheart Katie Holmes.) In this retelling of the story, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is the son of an idealistic US billionaire. Young Bruce has a horror of bats, it is this fear he draws upon in constructing his alter ego, after his parents are gunned down by a desperate street thug and the little boy feels pathetic he did nothing to help. But Nolan’s film gives us an interesting new twist. Bruce winds up in China where he encounters a mysterious sect of assassins, led by Liam Neeson, who propose to instruct him in the vocation of the masked avenger. This is the movie’s big influence: a wholesale borrowing from the wave of action movies like ‘Hero’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’. Batman’s big credibility gap has always been that he is the superhero without superpowers. Nolan’s film imports the concept of Asian martial arts to bolster Batman’s credentials. As Batman, Bale does look quite creepy, especially close up, his mouth and chin transformed into something bestial — with a growling voice that drops an octave when in character. Bale brings to this some of his American Psycho performance. Certainly, the muddy colours of Nolan’s visual palette make everything look appropriately dark. So Batman has indeed begun and the ending promises future encounters. Batman begins, all right. Now where does he go?