Silent J’s review published on Letterboxd:
Damn. This really holds up. This is even better than I remember it.
After the disaster of Batman & Robin (aka, the turd that should not be named) the Batman franchise needed a desperate reboot. Something that could give us a reason to take Batman (the films and the character) seriously again. So they got the guy who directed Memento to craft a darker, grittier reboot. It was an interesting decision which made for an interesting film.
The acting talent behind this is outstanding. Back in 2005, no one expected a superhero film of all things to get such an amazing cast and when it worked, it kinda paved the way for more high profile casts in superhero films, like the latest Amazing Spiderman. Christian Bale does a fantastic job as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. I find it amazing how well of a job he does playing essentially three characters. He plays the selfless, normal Bruce which he only shows to Alfred; then there's the charismatic jackass he shows to the public; and finally The Batman. Batman really feels like scary creature who could actually strike fear into people, play mind games, and basically unleash all of his anger. By the way, his Batman voice did'nt bother me at all. It wasn't too gravaly or anything and I could understand everything he's saying, unlike the sequel which we'll see how I feel when I see that again. The villains are played by Liam "BAMF" Neeson as the guy who trained Batman Ra's Al Ghul and Cilian Murphy who plays The Scarecrow, a psychopath who strikes fear into the hearts of others. Neeson is of course a bad motherfucker in this like always and Murphy almost steals the show as this batshit (no pun intended) character. Almost.
These three get praised a lot for "stealing the show" but I honestly think the best performance comes from Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth (kinda funny how Alfie plays Alfred). He gives a subtle enough performance to make you believe that he lets Bruce do what he does because he respects his decisions but at the same time he's feeling two things on the inside: he's worried he might get hurt or he might be insane. He feels like a fatherly figure to Bruce and it really works. You also get really strong performances from the likes of Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson, and Morgan Freeman. Katie Holmes is the obvious weak link but she isn't terrible. Just not very good and forgettable. I wouldn't mind if you forget she was even in the film. She's just that forgettable.
I love the fact that characters and story come before the action and effects. If you take away the action aspects, it's essentially a character piece about a tortued soul battling his demons looking for redemption. I remember I did'nt like the action sequences (mainly the fight scenes) the first few times I saw this because the camera's all over the place and you can barely tell what's going on but now I understand that they play to the centrail themes of the film of fear and panic. When we panic in the midst of fear, we're not aware of what's going on half the time. We usually have an idea of what's going on, but we're so scared shitless that we not very aware of our surroundings. That's kinda like how the action is like in this film and in that sense it works. To some people, it may frustrate you but I think it's pretty smart on the director's part. Like Alfred Hitchcock used to say, "I enjoy playing the audience like a piano" and it seems like this film's director does too. Also, I loved the score and the atmosphere. Really fit the tone the film was going for.
This was a near perfect way to revitalize the Batman franchise. It's amazing to see Bruce Wayne go through this journey from tortued soul to vigilante to a hero. Now let's see how well The Dark Knight holds up...