At this point everyone’s seen this movie.
Good night folks!
But seriously. This movie is…good? Yeah that’s it. It’s good. That is an accurate descriptor of 2022’s The Batman. It’s just not really my cup of tea right now. Starting with the positive, this movie is technically superb. The production design is great. The acting is peerless. This really is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” But woof it’s long. 3 Hours in a theater was a tough sell before. Nowadays when the movie will be available at home and pause-able within a couple months? Hard pass. And that’s where I saw it, at home with the ability to stop and pee and get a reasonably priced drink. Maybe I would’ve felt more absorbed in a theater but…I still haven’t forgiven them for the Silence of the Lambs incident. And it’s not helped by The Batman having an ending that feels longer than Return of the King.
While the art of the movie is near flawless, the story has some problems. The plot here is that there’s some kind of informant that ratted on the mob. Their identity is secret because a lot of people made their careers on this. The Riddler has a problem with this and is killing people he thinks benefit from corruption in Gotham. The Batman is trying to find out who this informant is before more people get killed. This brings Batman into contact with a top mob lieutenant, The Penguin.
Colin Ferrell as The Penguin. Amazing acting, amazing practical makeup. Possibly my favorite character in the movie. But why is he here? The trailer moneyshot is the car chase between Penguin and The New Muscle Car Batmobile. It’s a great scene! Then finally Batman catches the bad guy.
Batman: “Hey are you the informant I’m trying to find?”
Batman: “Oh okay.”
Sure this scene gets us to another Riddler clue. Fine. But there had to be an easier way to get there right? The car chase reminds me of the airport fight scene in Captain America: Civil War. They’re both fun scenes and the action highlights of their movies. But why are they there? All this scene does is establish that The Penguin is a red herring in the script. Civil War, they flew in people from other continents to help get them to a plane to get to Siberia. Follow that logic. Part of me wants to look into a mirror and ask if I just hate fun. The cynical way to look at this is that HBO is going to be making a Penguin series. The Penguin doesn’t really belong in this movie, we’re just doing it to setup the TV Series. But is that really a problem if he’s enjoyable in this movie and the TV series is good? This is just how things are done now.
This movie also does something that I’ve started noticing the last couple years where it’s treated as a serious problem when something is leaked to the press. In this movie, Carmine Falcone’s recorded murder of a woman is played on TV. I hate to follow my cynicism about The Penguin with more hopelessness. But. The overwhelming lesson I’ve learned from the last decade is that leaking to the press means precisely dick. It’s a dated trope. Daredevil in the first episode of that series says “Then we tell everyone” when they find evidence of corruption. Cue the shot of a satisfied looking reported staring at a newspaper while music plays. It’s cute. Cute and fictitious. Very optimistic for a movie people call gritty. I guess it depends what you find gritty and realistic.
Speaking of hopelessness and optimism, Mob Boss Carmine Falcone does eventually get arrested. Gordon slams the cuffs on him. Falcone, the mafia don, smirks. He knows he’ll beat the rap. Falcone asks Gordon, doesn’t he know that in Gotham the mob owns the cops? Gordon throws the door open. Cops are everywhere. “We don’t all work for you.” Fuck yeah! There are some honest cops in Gotham after all! Falcone is going down! Justice is going to prevail! Then The Penguin calls out to Falcone that he’ll probably won’t last the night in prison. Fuck ye…wait what? I’m pretty sure that man just said this other man was going to be murdered in jail. *Camera pans to good cops, doing nothing.* Again maybe this is just me getting old and getting cynical. Just…I’m pretty sure that taking Carmine Falcone alive was presented as The Right Thing a few minutes ago. Now his extrajudicial killing is acceptable? Of course it’s acceptable, this is The United States of America! A man dressed as a bat can bring down the mob. The most corrupt city ever still has a few good apples. But American prisons being a place where the guilty can do their penance in safety? Well that would just be unrealistic. Again, like the press thing and the car chase I can see what the intended reaction is. But it just makes me…sad.
Speaking of Carmine Falcone, his downfall, dead or alive, is kind of the point of the movie. Because Carmine Falcone is the informant that the story revolves around. This was a secret among the highest power brokers in Gotham. The previous Mob boss, Salvatore Maroni, was brought down by this secret informant. Carmine ratted. He gave the cops the evidence they needed to put the old mob boss away. Batman and Gordon spent the whole movie up to this point trying to figure out who this person could be. Everyone is terrified of this mysterious person. This is no Doctor Yueh to be killed as soon as they’re no longer needed. No this mystery person has the entire city scared. Was it The Penguin? Batman? No, it turns out that Carmine Falcone was the rat all along.
Wait that’s it? The guy who runs the mob wasn’t a suspect right away to be ruled out before the huge car chase? An informant everyone in the city owes their careers to turns out to be the mob boss who controls the city. Holy shit this one really required the world’s greatest detective. I get that there’s more to it than that but really guys? No one asked, Cui Bono?
I think me ages 13-33 would’ve loved this movie. The last few years have taken a toll though. I appreciate this movie but I’m a solid “it’s fine.” I’m tired. I don’t get enough sleep, I work too much, I don’t see my wife and friends as much as I wish I could. I’m just not down for a long gritty movie anymore. I need some hope that doesn’t come with three hours of misery. 8mm and A Walk Among the Tombstones accomplish that just fine in two hours.