Let me be clear here: The Dark Knight is not a movie that digs super deep philosophically or morally (although it does work as a great social commentarty), but enough that it raises its intense action scenes beyond just being intense set pieces. It gives meaning to the chaos, as much as anarchy can have meaning. I'm not going to go into storyline here. It's nothing new story wise. The true genius behind this movie is the combination of the acting and the directing that made it a dance of visual brilliance and subtlety. The way Nolan was able to get the performances he did from a stellar cast of leads and supporting is a true triumph. The for major leads- Bale, Ledger, Eckhart & Oldman- take talent to the next level.
Christian Bale's triumph of playing a "freak...like me!" is wholly invigorating. He is a hero who knows his limits and his flaws and realizes exactly what he has brought upon Gotham. Heath Ledger is so outstandingly creepy that when people laugh in the cinemas at parts he plays, you almost cringe at them. There wasn't a single thing funny about his joker. Yes he had some genius one-liners, but even those were calculated and malicious enough to make you cringe in fear and horror. A scene where the Joker is being interrogated is just fitfully brilliant acting on Ledger's part that you can't but wonder how taxing it must have been to emerse yourself into that psychopathic mind. Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent, the white knight of Gotham City, and although his part is understated at first, you see the mind of a man on the edge brewing behind his eyes. He may have been the shining light in Gotham's most tumoltuos time, but as in many of Nolan's films, even the good have a touch of evil somewhere tucked away that can come forth if pushed to the limits. Lastly, Gary Oldman, an actor who can never go wrong, also understates and slow plays his Detective turned Commisioner role. He's a true police officer not entirely liked by all because he wants one thing and that's the peace that Gotham City deserves.
The reason I still call this an Action Film is because beyond all the psychology is a truly riveting stunt filled spectacle. Unlike past Batman films, The Dark Knight is almost 100% location filming. Scenes where a policemen's parade for slain officers erupts into chaos thanks to the Joker is utterly breathtaking. The main chase sequence through Gotham's underground ending in the most glorious truck stunt you will ever see on film just explodes with brilliance. And the reason why? Very minimal CGI and real stunts. When you see the Joker's Truck do a front flip, that's not a computer altered truck. That's an 18-wheeler hurtling through the air. That's something you don't see very often anymore. Another mind boggling thing of chaotic beauty is when the Joker walks non-chalantly out of a hospital as it slowly explodes. This wasn't shot in Chicago like most of the film, but it was a set piece built for the sole purpose to succumb to the Joker's crazy rampage.
The film may be a tad bit long in the tooth, but it's a tooth that sinks right into your neck and feels good. It's the kind of 2 and a half hour film that you never want to end. As much as a lot of it is intense and in your face, it's something that gets your adreneline pumping and your suspense sensors flairing on overdrive. It's social comment on terrorism and heroes vs. villains is something that is such a dark and grey area that it will question both sides of the arguement for Homeland Security and the way things are done to "protect" the citizens. It's not ultra deep, but it's still there and really works. This is a must see film on the big screen and probably will be one of the best films you will see all year. There really is only one word to describe it... triumphant.