The second half of Chrisopher Nolan's final Batman film can't deliver on the promise of the first.
"The Batman," Police Commissioner Gordon croaks weakly to Bruce Wayne early in The Dark Knight Rises, "must come back." The commissioner frames the matter as a civic obligation, though one imagines that Warner Bros. Pictures may have harbored motivations of a rather more commercial nature. In any case, here we are, with the third—and theoretically final—installment of writer/director Christopher Nolan's take on the caped crusader.
Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) makes his plea to Wayne (Christian Bale) after suffering multiple bullet perforations and a near-drowning at the hands of Bane (Tom Hardy), a seething mass of bicep and trapezius who is also, unfortunately, a terrorist mastermind. Bane is assembling an army in the sewers beneath Gotham City and the police, commanded during Gordon's recuperation by a fainthearted deputy (Matthew Modine), seem unequal to the gathering threat.
It's been eight years in movie time since the conclusion of the last film, The Dark Knight, when heroic-attorney-turned-sociopathic-killer Harvey Dent died in the midst of an altercation with Batman. The latter demanded to be held responsible for the former's crimes, in order that Dent could remain a symbol of hope for the denizens of Gotham. And indeed, the city subsequently used his memory to pass the Harvey Dent Act, which granted the police extraordinary powers to combat organized crime. (The film toys with the idea that this may not have been a good thing to do, but briefly and without much conviction.) As a result, there has been relative peace in the city, and Bruce Wayne has retired to his manor to live as a Howard Hughesian hermit. Batman has not been heard from at all.