The Dark Knight Review: Conjecture

At this point I feel some need to pull out some remaining stops I have about this movie. A lot of this section is based around nit picking and details in specific parts of the movie that just take me out of the believable un-reality of Batman. It has been said the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense (Mark Twain). Well there are some moments in The Dark Knight that don’t pass muster with me. I’ll lay them out here. Please excuse my colloquial, more or less inquisitive tone:

At the beginning of the amazing opening heist, a helicopter can be seen in the upper left coroner of the frame. I love this shot, but I cannot un-see the helicopter now. Then one of the robbers gets shot. Did the Joker plan that to happen? He must have because they had pretty neat circle at that point. More importantly, at the end of the amazing opening heist the Joker gets in the school bus and drives off in a caravan of school busses. We can hear the kids on the other busses. How did the bus driver manage to back the bus into the building from that street? Why were the other busses spaced sufficiently to let the Joker back in? Why didn’t the the legitimate bus company call in this disaster? “Worried about my driving, call 1-800-the Joker stole my bus!” So the Joker must have bought out the bus company, but how and with what funds? The cops can be seen driving up too, and yet they don’t seem to notice the bus with the rubble on it.

I happen to like Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, but playing up his playboy charm does elevate the great problem of the Batman persona; not only is Wayne perhaps the only billionaire on the planet capable of being Batman (sorry Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg), but his flashy use of funds doesn’t cover him up any more. In fact Wayne and Alfred are pretty cavalier with the illusion discussing how Wayne “socializes with the scum of Gotham’s underbelly” in front of all the interior decorators at his party. Michael Keaton was a little more believable as a geeky recluse billionaire, a product of the personal computing bubble.

How is it that Wayne, the Joker, Dent, everyone except Rachel and Gordon seems to have more intimate knowledge of Gotham’s constabulary than the guy in charge of it? I know I went over this a little bit earlier, but I’m kind of amazed that Gordon can’t figure out who he can trust and why when he sees these people every day. For instance, there is a scene where Wuertz rides up in the elevator to Wayne’s penthouse with the Joker. Maybe he was coerced and didn’t have a choice at the time, but wouldn’t somebody ask him about it?

Perhaps the most baffling sequence in the entire movie is the one surrounding the mayor’s death threat and Gordon’s sting operation. So Batman takes a fingerprint off a bullet in a piece of brick, he doesn’t know who he’s looking for though. It turns out though that the finger print matches someone that we must assume the Joker hired to kill the men conveniently named Harvey and Dent. And it happens that that someone lives at an apartment overlooking the parade to honor commissioner Loeb. What was Batman expecting to find there? Why were the cops there? How did the Joker know that Batman would be able to get up there?

Harvey drives off with an ambulance and an injured crazy person. Nobody notices or cares or is able to locate the ambulance later. But even though his actions are questionable, even unethical at this point, I don’t think the city would just turn over the criminals he’d prosecuted.

Earlier the Joker put an obituary for the Mayor in Gotham’s newspaper. Can you imagine that phone call with the editor of the Gotham Times? Then Gordon gets shot. Who knows that he is alive? Someone must know. But it isn’t Wayne or Dent. Maybe the guy standing over him at the event? So Batman comes up with a plan to out himself. He was ready to step up at the press conference, but Harvey got there first. Harvey has a plan to catch the Joker. But were Dent and Wayne aware that Gordon was there to swoop in too? How did they organize to get together for the sting operation.

Then Harvey and Rachel get turned over to the Mob. Or is it the Joker? The Joker blames the Mob, the Mob blames the Joker for Harvey’s and Rachel’s abduction. How did the Joker organize his escape in the few minutes he was locked up? Why did he plan to get captured when he appeared interested in seeing if Dent or someone else was Batman?

Adjunct to that point, in what proximity are the Joker and the Mob working together? Who is plotting what? Plots to block Dent’s legislative actions, Dent’s abduction, plots to foil Batman, plots to spring various important and unimportant people from jail. All these plots come up, but who is planning what, who is carrying what out?

Shockingly, in this lack of clarity that is The Dark Knight, there are also plenty of plot holes. Often things happen and characters make assumptions that would be totally impossible:

Wayne seems to be able to do an awful lot in a few days, turning all the cell phones in Gotham into the most accurate sonar in the world? I mean it can recognize faces. Although how Batman is able to decipher the image is a mystery to me.

Batman leaves the Joker alone in a room with Gotham’s most powerful and wealthiest citizens. I mean he jumped out a window to save Rachel sure, but what is the Joker doing up there with all those people?

The Joker manages to shepherd the convoy pretty well it seems. He planted that obstruction in the road right? But then when they reroute to some random open street, the Joker has his goons planted there to take down the helicopter. How did he know when and where they would turn off to plant his goons? How did he know there'd be a helicopter to take down in this fashion?

How did the Joker know that there’d be a microcosm of society befitting his “social experiment” on the ferries? Gordon decided last minute and in private to send the criminals out too, but Gordon couldn’t have planned things better for the Joker.

Whatever, none of these problems seem to bother the people who subscribe to the notion that this truly is a great work of cinema. But they’re wrong.