Title: The Batman.
Director: Matt Reeves.
Writer(s): Matt Reeves & Peter Craig.
Release Date: 2022.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Drama.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, and many more!
Budget: $185-200 million (estimated).
My Overall Rating:
Originally intended to be actor Ben Affleck’s directorial project upon taking on the mantle of the Caped Crusader within the DC Extended Universe in 2013, the project had to come to a halt as he encountered personal obstacles leading him to abandon the development of the highly anticipated movie. Warner Bros. Pictures thus turned on their heels and looked into director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes). For him to agree to become this project’s saviour, one condition needed to be met: creative control to rewrite the script and explore a grimmer, grittier, and darker interpretation of the Dark Knight that has never been achieved by previous critically-acclaimed directors. Penning the screenplay with Peter Craig after completing his last movie in 2017, it took five long years, amidst the hassles brought upon them by a pandemic, to deliver a definitive, revised, and accurate Batman mythos, rebooted to properly explore the intricate and complex pieces comprised within the mosaic that is Gotham City and the hornets’ nest that is the mind of the world’s greatest detective.
What is The Batman (2022) about? Into his second year of crime-fighting, Bruce Wayne observes the decrepit and imploding city of Gotham, struggling to hang onto any hope that he alone could fight against the decaying and prolific vices growing in the underbellies of his home. Convinced that fear and vengeance are the answer to the pains of his city, he approaches crime from the shadows and seeks to send ill-doers cowering back to their alleys. While the battle is still far from over, a mysterious new figure also surges onto the scene and calls himself the Riddler as he takes it upon himself to uncover the corruption running rampant in the city and killing Gotham’s elite to unmask the truth. To make matters worse, Bruce Wayne’s own family legacy is put front and center in the city’s hidden corruption and forces the orphan hero to ponder his own raison d’être.
Right off a streak of stellar performances in recent movies, actor Robert Pattinson (Good Time, The Lighthouse, Tenet) delivers a brooding, grisly, and vulnerable take of Batman, inevitably shocking viewers with his powerful performance that gruesomely captures director Matt Reeves’ vision of the character. Drawing inspiration on Taxi Driver (1976), he translates onto the big screen an introspective and disturbed individual who has yet to fully understand the venues before him to cope with his traumas. Psychologically troubled, obsessed by his quest to rid Gotham City of scums and criminals, and enraptured by his own disturbed perception of a world where he only sees the worse in everyone, actor Robert Pattinson achieves a brilliantly complex rendition of the Dark Knight who has ventured too deep into his own self-destructive ways, bordering toxic habits, as he sacrifices his persona as Bruce Wayne to commit entirely to the masked vigilante. While Bruce Wayne, the famous philanthropist, and playboy, is absent in this movie, it is clear that this character has yet to understand the role of his multiple identities, the synergy that he could eventually bring into play and take advantage of to create change in his city. Instead, he engulfs himself in a rabid and vengeful quest with the sole objective of feeding fear into those who dare embrace criminal aspirations.
Alongside actor Robert Pattinson also comes Zoë Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent) to portray Selina Kyle, the seductive femme fatale. Unlike previous iterations of the character, director Matt Reeves introduces brilliant narrative material around the character to capture the antihero’s traumatic past, morally-grey behaviours, and complex relationship with the Dark Knight. Her unique body language also hints at her cat-like movements while her action sequences highlight her highly versatile techniques requiring tremendous flexibility and agility. In this story, her romantic connections to Batman are also rapidly explored as she brushes up with his unique moral code while seeking justice for wrongs committed to others. Despite a rushed emotional tango with the Caped Crusader towards the second half, her portrayal of Selina Kyle is beyond reproach and brings into play an additional facet to Gotham’s claustrophobic and precarious ecosystem.
Working together with Batman is Lieutenant James Gordon, played by the talented actor Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, Boardwalk Empire). With a friendship most likely developed during the unshown year one of Bruce Wayne’s activities as the masked vigilante, it is a sight to behold to watch the two work together in their hunt for the Riddler. Clever, ethical, and demonstrating unprecedented leadership within the Gotham City Police Department, his character clearly brings forth a man who has the weight of the whole justice system on his shoulder, a man who sees the necessity of Batman to battle the crime-festering street thugs and lunatics in Gotham, a man who sees clearly the right from wrong to justify his own actions. With adequate screen time, actor Jeffrey Wright does a terrifyingly brilliant job to deliver a convincing hero who works in unison with Batman’s methods and who only seeks mutual trust in each other’s ways to put behind bars the right people who deserve it.
Entangled into this neo-noir murder mystery is a classic Batman villain, Oswald Cobblepot, played by actor Colin Farrell (The Lobster, In Bruges) and his performance is surprisingly impressive. Not only does he go through a serious physical transformation that makes it nearly impossible to recognize the actor, but there’s also a whole character transformation that takes place on the screen that hints at the Penguin’s growing reputation and his role in the future of Gotham City. While it is more likely that fans will learn more about him through the upcoming HBO Max TV series, the cynical comedy that he brings to the table is refreshing while his presence reminds viewers that the criminal world is ever-evolving, brimming with unknown ramifications that keep the city from ever welcoming peace and justice during these trying times.
To better capture the hardboiled detective story that unfolded on screen, scrupulous attention was put into Gotham City itself. Filmed mostly in Liverpool, Scotland, and Chicago, there’s a sense of terror, free reign, and broiling anger that emanates from the scenes set in Gotham City. From Bruce Wayne’s manor to the GCPD, the gothic qualities of the city were also beautifully rendered, often plunging it into darkness, and blanketing the city in a veil of shadows that reminded us of Batman’s territory, a terrain that he alone controls. With Greig Fraser’s cinematography and the editing team’s work, the city was effortlessly brought to life. Special attention to sunsets also allowed the movie to be infused with a bit of light but most of the detective work was completed when the sun was down and the scums were up and running.
On top of the taxing psychological warfare that a rabid serial killer offers to the agents of justice and the Dark Knight, which also gave director Matt Reeves the premise necessary to fully tell his murder mystery à la Seven (1995) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and to highlight Batman’s crime-solving abilities, the movie also brilliantly incorporates a wide array of his uncommon gadgets and technology, built by himself with unrivaled knowledge, and cleverly showcased in unforgettable set-pieces and action-packed sequences. Top it off with his own ground-breaking batmobile, where the roaring of its engine alone could scare the mightiest of foes out of their skin, it might as well be mentioned that the movie features one of the most exciting and riveting car chases in Batman history that sends hommage to the iconic car scene in The French Connection (1971).
To further complement the dark and depressive tone of the movie is the score realized by Michael Giacchino, and what a marvelous theme he’s produced for the Dark Knight. Its sinister, intimidating, powerful, and rhythmic soul establishes the depressive and threatening presence that brings Batman to all those that he’s about to pummel into oblivion. The score whispers a murmur of incoming brutality and sends a cadenced stomping of chaotic ferocity. It’s simply an unforgettable chime that’s bound to give nightmares to just about anyone, from low-life dropheads to sketchy elites. The score neatly wraps the movie in a beautiful tempo that simply keeps the pace going.
The crime story itself is a tremendous and thrilling experience that brings together a grounded set of complex and intricate characters. A key element of this adventure is watching Bruce Wayne/Batman work through his mistakes and flaws, showing incredible techniques of improvisation and split-second decision-making, and embracing his failures to learn and improve his ways. Still young and blinded in fury and rage that consumes his vision of the world, it is through experience that he can finally look beyond the walls he’s built himself to see that what his city needs might not be what he’s been trying so desperately to stomp into its cracks. It’s this transformation that takes place on the screen that remains the cherry on top of the cake as director Matt Reeves achieves his artistic vision for this fully-realized Batman mythology.
Through the cat and mouse (or should I say rat?) chase between Batman and the Riddler, there’s also a fantastic journey to unmask the truth in Gotham. The corruption and lies that fuel the elites and the social stratification that help proliferate its countless problems remain some of Riddler’s key pieces to the terror he unleashes upon Gothamites. Underlying each of their objectives, as much Batman as the Riddler, is a clever exploration of the roots of trauma that set the foundation within unhinged individuals and can turn into a blooming flower of healing and hope or an ungraspable weed of vengeance and terror. This offers viewers a staggering and riveting depiction of trauma, vengeance, and justice through incredible attention to detail, stunning cinematography, and meticulous acting. While trauma can cut one’s understanding of the world and desire to reach for help, it’s how one uses it and transforms it for self-betterment that makes all the difference. And through this phenomenal Batman neo-noir outing comes a story that revels in its account of justice, humanity, and hope.
The Batman (2022) is a grim and bleak descent into the tormented endeavours of a vengeful Dark Knight and his heroic awakening amidst the demented Riddler’s chaos within a derelict Gotham City.