The Batman (2022)

Director: Matt Reeves

Running Time: 176 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, Jayme Lawson, Gil Perez-Abraham, Peter McDonald, Alex Ferns, Con O'Neill, Rupert Penry-Jones, Charlie Carver, Max Carver

There seems to be three certainties in life; death, taxes, and Batman films. After Christopher Nolan's grounded trilogy was followed by Zack Snyder's universe-building battle against extraterrestrials, Matt Reeves slots his film in-between for a more heightened take on the former without feeling like a retread. A key difference lays in the emphasis on something other iterations overlooked - detective work.

Set during his second-year of crime fighting, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) avoids his CEO responsibilities to focus on his nightly crime-fighting activities as Batman. His main adversary is The Riddler (Paul Dano), a serial killer set on uncovering corruption at the heart of Gotham City.

Co-written with Peter Craig, what Reeves has crafted is a crime-thriller inspired by David Fincher, particularly Se7en and Zodiac. Moments feel horror-inspired and utterly tense, while also tackling themes of internet extremism, institutional corruption, classism, and even allowing humour to naturally appear. It all feels at home within the 176-minute runtime, while never feeling baggy or overlong.

Key to it all is Pattinson's tremendous performance, conveying so much about this damaged and brooding character through the smallest of instances. One key moment shows the evident fear in his eyes, a contrast with his body's calm and composed demeanour. He's grappling with what his parents symbolised for the city, and is trying to live up to that in his own way.

Criminals are depicted as a superstitious cowardly lot, something which informs this boogeyman take on Batman. As the shining Bat-signal instils fear into the criminals, they become fearful of darkened areas the caped crusader may appear from to dispense vengeance. This is an interesting place to begin the character's journey with Gotham, as his actions transform to symbolise the hope within a corrupt city, highlighted with the exceptional use of Nirvana's Something In The Way.

Accompanying him on-screen are a phenomenal cast, each putting their own spin on roles previously inhabited memorably. Audiences barely get to see Dano's face on-screen, yet that doesn't affect the unforgettable portrayal put into this chilling iteration. Colin Farrell threatens to steal the show under impressive prosthetics with a lively Penguin performance, while Jeffrey Wright sells the mutual respect Gordon and Batman share whenever they're paired onscreen. Zoë Kravitz is a compelling presence as the feline-lover Selina Kyle, sharing sizzling chemistry with Pattinson whenever they're together.

Contrasting the city's grim underbelly is how gorgeously Greig Frasier's cinematography brings it alive, as integral to setting the mood as Michael Giacchino's score that's both operatic and grungy. These elements set the scene remarkably for the character-driven moments as much as an exceptional rain-set car-chase. While one bit of sequel set-up felt unnecessary, this was an exceptional take on a long-adapted character proving there's still life in this old horse yet.

The Batman is available in cinemas now