We pick up where Batman Begins signed off, with Gotham, while not as crime-ridden as it once was, is nonetheless still full of organised crime figures and corrupt cops.
Somebody starts ripping off the mob’s money by pulling bank heists, something that starts getting the gangster’s all het up. Turns out it is the psychopathic Joker grabbing the loot, all in an attempt to get them to hire him to get rid of Batman and once again turn Gotham City into a criminal haven – for no other reason than it seems like a good thing to do.
Of course, Bruce Wayne, in the guise of Batman, and Gotham’s squeaky clean Lieutenant Jim Gordon, aided by the newly elected DA Harvey Dent, plan to not only stop the chaos, but put all the bad guys behind bars. A minor subplot involving a love triangle of Batman, Dent and Wayne’s former love Rachel Dawes, soon evolves into one of the main story arcs. Nothing is simple in this story with several plot twists and turns leaving the viewer wondering where the rollercoaster is heading next.
It would be easy to pass off Ledger’s performance of the Joker as brilliant simply because it would be the right thing to do due to his passing away before he’d made a huge dent in the cinemascape. But that would be doing a disservice not only to Ledger, but to the role itself. To say it is splendid is an understatement. He plays so convincingly a man caught in an acute psychosis, that it rises above the comic book caricature that is its source material. We never thought Jack Nicholson’s incarnation would never be bettered, but we were glad to be proven wrong. Add to that Bale, Oldman, Gyllenhaal and especially Eckhart’s earnest performances, with a sprinkle of class by Freeman and Caine, it’s easy to see why this turned out to be such a box office smash.