Batman is lured back into action after a lengthy hiatus — to prevent a terrorist from nuking a Gotham City closely resembling the Big Apple — in the imposingly dark and hugely entertaining “The Dark Knight Rises.’’
Superhero movies are perhaps the most predicable genre out there right now (sorry, Marvel fans), but take it from someone who can usually spot plot twists half an hour away: Christopher Nolan’s dramatically and emotionally satisfying wrap-up to the Dark Knight trilogy adroitly avoids clichés and gleefully subverts your expectations at every turn.
Eight years after the end of 2008’s “The Dark Knight,’’ Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is a shattered recluse who hobbles around his mansion on a cane following the death of his fiancée — and his long-unseen alter ego, Batman, is being blamed for the death of DA Harvey Dent.
Bruce is finally forced to don the Batsuit again, though, after a fusion device he helped develop is stolen and weaponized.
The villain is Bane (Tom Hardy), a hulking, bald terrorist with a grotesque mask that includes a Darth Vader-like voice synthesizer.
Introduced in a spectacular airborne stunt sequence straight out of a James Bond movie, Bane simultaneously traps almost all of Gotham City’s police force in an underground tunnel, demolishes half a football stadium and announces to Gotham’s populace that he’s turning over the city to the 99 percent.
The city’s presumed-guilty wealthy citizens — who no longer include Bruce, thanks to Bane’s stunningly staged attack on the Gotham Stock Exchange — are sentenced by a French Revolution-style court even as Bane blows up all the bridges to prevent escape from his planned thermonuclear special event.
The ever-reliable Alfred (Michael Caine), Wayne Enterprises CEO and master inventor Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and the gravely injured Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) have Batman’s back in his quest, but that isn’t enough.
He must also forge more ambiguous al