An intelligent script and a carefully crafted plot can be hard elements to employ, particularly when the hero is a comic book character. Luckily Batman Begins has evolved far beyond its 1966 predecessor where skirmishes between tights-wearing superheroes and villains were highlighted with words like "POW" and "BAM".
Revisiting the familial mansion of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), this updated storyline introduces the meaningful people in the young boy's life and establishes the reasons behind his fears. As a child, he watches his philanthropic father (Linus Roache) build an empire in Gotham City, creating infrastructures and programs to help the local populace. Yet even the family's hordes of money can't save his dad from an attack by a desperate criminal (Richard Brake).
Haunted by childhood trauma and suppressed guilt, Bruce questions his role in life after his father's death and chooses to run from his problems. But like all internal issues, his apprehensions only follow him.
Then finally, as Gotham City festers under the influence of drug lords and hardened gangsters, the wealthy heir begins to realize his responsibility to the family name. With the help of his butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), he puts his fears in perspective and uses them as a catalyst for the unveiling of his masked persona.
Bruce isn't alone in his desire to reclaim the city. Good citizens remain, despite being few in number. Even Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), who faces corruption both in and out of the police force, isn't ready to give up. Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), an attorney at the D.A.'s office and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), an employee of Wayne Enterprises, are also doing their best to turn things around.
Still, violent encounters escalate as Batman battles the thugs. While much of the fighting takes place in dark and shadowy settings, there is plenty of hand-to-hand combat, gunshots, and fiery explosions, particularly as the clashes ramp up toward the end of the film. As well, a mind-altering drug administered by the criminals causes victims to experience panic and wildly distorted hallucinations.
Releasing on regular screens and in IMAX (where audiences are treated to a several-story high version of the caped crusader), the movie takes a long hard look at justice. Whether administered by law enforcement officers or vigilantes, it is an elusive quality when a society is overrun with crime.
Fortunately, the film offers some interesting insights along with good entertainment for adults and older teens who can deal with the heavy dose of action violence. Never taking itself too seriously, the script rewinds the recent adventures of the billionaire playboy and brings us back to where Batman Begins.