Look, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I think he’s adorable and he’s probably a good actor. I haven’t seen any solid evidence yet, but I have faith. That said, he came pretty close to ruining The Dark Knight Rises for me.
Below here lie spoilers.
Until Levitt’s John Blake is revealed to be Robin (kind of), I had no idea why he was in the movie or what purpose he served. That’s not to say that the script didn’t try to give him a purpose. In fact, the Nolan brothers worked very hard to make Blake seem like the catalyst for most of Bruce Wayne’s self-exploration and his eventual decision to rejoin public life and fight for the freedom of Gotham. That, and Obi-Wan-Ke-Ra’s-Al-Ghul. But ultimately it just wasn’t that convincing. Blake didn’t serve as a shot in the arm for the franchise or its lead character. Instead, his scenes seemed to be from a different movie, starring the bland police officer who gets all of Gotham’s cops trapped in the sewers.
No matter how much they try to convince us how vital Levitt is to the story, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to care. In fact, since I didn’t buy Blake as a secret genius who shared some secret orphan kinship with Bruce Wayne, it’s just embarrassing that he’s the only person in the world who figured out who Batman was without Wayne having to drop fat clues. Blake’s presence in the movie not only further sidelines the injured Commissioner Gordon (and who wouldn’t rather watch Gary Oldman and his impressively good Chicago accent than the bland Levitt?) but it also makes Gordon, a career police officer and close, personal friend of both Bruce Wayne “The Batman” look like a rookie and a moron.
Then there’s the most baffling, unintentionally hilarious part of the whole movie, which is the enormous disconnect between the character on the page and Levitt’s flat portrayal of him.
At least thrice someone calls Blake a “hothead” and implies that he has a short temper, flies off the handle and acts irrationally. Meanwhile, Levitt stands there blinking mildly and delivering his lines calmly, making most of his scenes come off like so:
“Sir, with respect, deference and gentility, I ask that we do this totally reasonable thing.”
“YOU’RE OUTTA CONTROL, BLAKE! SLOW DOWN OR I’M GONNA HAVE TO TASE YOU, SON.”
“I just think it would be the most logical thing to do.”
“YOU FUGGIN’ HOTHEAD! YOU’RE OFF THE FORCE. TURN IN YOUR BADGE, YOU RAVING LUNATIC.”
In case you’re wondering what relevance this has to books, I could hide behind the fact that Batman is a comic book/graphic novel, but that would be a stretch. Sometimes I just want to rant about movies.