If you haven't had a chance to see Heath Ledger's final performance in the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight," you're missing out. I feared all of Ledger's glowing reviews were hyped in the wake of his death, but his portrayal of the twisted Joker warrants recognition. (Posthumous Oscar, anyone?)
In fact, the performance deserves a rank on my "Best Bad Guys Ever" list, which includes Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast," Robert DeNiro in "Cape Fear" and a recent addition, Ben Foster's Charlie Prince in "3:10 to Yuma," which also stars Batman's Christian Bale.
Best Bad Guys are usually ruthless, have little or nothing to lose, and have a sense of self-awareness that translates into humor. Ledger's Joker accomplishes all three. (Watch early on for the Joker's "I'm gonna make this pencil disappear" trick, which is a nominee for the "Ickiest Way to Kill Someone" award.)
"The Dark Knight," however, runs too long, diverting into a storyline involving Gotham City's district attorney, which is aptly played by the fabulous Aaron Eckhart, but feels tangiential to the story between Batman and the Joker.
Or maybe it's just that I wished Ledger's performance would continue.