The Batman (2022)

“The Batman” is a sure bet for Warner Bros. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good movie, but with their development department scrambling on one single vision for their DCEU, rebooting Batman yet again, just makes sense. It rebuilds confidence (borrowed time) in their brand, and it guarantees moolah in the box office. It’s cynical but now we have three cinematic jokers, two live action Batmans, and a new movie fans are going to spend the next year wondering where it fits in to the timeline.

Two years in to his stint as Batman, the Dark Knight ventures into Gotham City’s underworld when a sadistic killer known as The Riddler leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and his parents’ legacy and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans become clear, he must forge new relationships with allies, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.

Learning from Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. gives Matt Reeves seemingly free reign to deliver his own Batman movie. Andfor the most part it’s a very good crime thriller. Reeves promised a more in depth look in to Batman the great detective, and he makes good on that promise. Where Nolan took pages from Michael Mann, Reeves takes a lot from David Fincher. The film’s central villain the Riddler is the Zodiac Killer and Jigsaw combined, while Batman is given a tough time trying to stay one step ahead while dodging the Gotham PD, all of whom feel threatened by his interference. This creates palpable tension, especially since Gordon garners a sense of understanding with him and his mission.

Much of “The Batman” relies on the classic themes of other Batman tales before it. Gotham political corruption, back doordeals with mobsters, lost souls turning to crime for justification, and of course Bruce Wayne trying right wrongs as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s familiar. But surely enough Reeves manages to stick the landing by utilizing his cast and offering a vision of Gotham and Batman that we want to see more of. Robert Pattinson is just made for this new version of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Pattinson is electric in the role of Batman, expressing so much with his intense silence and reactions to the chaos. He’s able to so much through his mask, which is often difficult even for the best Batman actors.

Director Reeves relies on a more home made version of Batman (as opposed to Nolan’s more militarized version) where he’s still learning the kinks of his own equipment. He almost always escapes by the skin of his teeth, and Reeves doesn’t mind knocking him around a bit. Pattinson is a fantastic Batman and he carries a great cast that includes Geoffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as Penguin, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, and Paul Dano as the Riddler, respectively. The Riddler is a much more horrifying and relentless villain this time around, side stepping wise cracks in favor of morbid riddles that offer a demented after thought prior to one of his vicious murders.

That said, “The Batman” is much too long in the tooth, opening up multiple sub-plots that it scrambles to resolve by the time the film comes to a close. It does a fairly good job of it, especially considering the film introduces about five different endings, all of which feel tacked on by the studio in case of spin offs, sequels, web series’, or re-reboots. It’s sad since the movie goes along very well until the final half hour, and then it just doesn’t seem to know how to end. With “The Batman” riding on familiar Batman elements in to a very good reboot, I hope the sequel at least allows us new, bold visions of Batman’s villains outside of the Joker.