Daredevil Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
February 18th, 2003

The "Devil" Is that There Are No Details by Homer Yen
(c) 2003

Like so many other superheroes, DareDevil's (played by Ben Affleck) origin stems from a traumatic childhood involving bullies and the death of a parent. Meanwhile, his preternatural abilities arise as a result of a freak accident that leaves him blind. However, his other senses have become tremendously magnified. This is captivatingly illustrated to us as a sort of radar in which sound waves and odor particles create ghostly yet oneiric images. It's a blessing that allows him to much more aware of his surroundings. But, it is a nuisance because the inside of his head must sound like a radio receiver that is picking up every station and playing them simultaneously.

We always welcome heroes into our midst; however, can someone please save us from these one-dimensional men of daring-do? I ask that not because I don't like superheroes. After all, I'm one of those whom, at the age of 7, woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to my parents chagrin to catch Superfriends on television. Now in my mid-thirties, I still tune into the Cartoon Network now and then to catch that same show. However, while action speaks louder than words on the pages of comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, in a feature length film, words are what define your actions.

Unfortunately, DareDevil doesn't say very much, although he spends a lot of time rappelling from building to building, listening to the sounds of the city while perched upon some skyscraper ledge, and questioning himself if one man can really make a difference. The answer to the last question is 'yes' and that person would be the 'script writer.'

Here, the storytelling is too loose. While the lighting looks good, the atmosphere evokes a comic strip world come-to-life, and a maniacal character called Bullseye (Colin Farrell) are real joys, "DareDevil" will leave you indifferent and even numbed. Partly, it's a story about DareDevil's origins. Partly, it's a love story. Partly, it's a story of vengeance. Partly, it's a story to determine the identity of a criminal mastermind known as Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan). Thank goodness Kingpin had the smarts to send his personal guards home early so that the finale didn't have to be unnecessarily prolonged. The film is mired in inertia and doesn't seem to have an underlying purpose.
While the film seems eager to please, more help is needed. Most of the fighting scenes were too quickly edited and are fought in dark locations. This made it very hard to follow. The only well-lit melee was in a playground where our hero meets up with a firecracker named Elektra (Jennifer Garner). However, after watching that Jackie Chan film, these two seem like they were in slow motion. The acting is serviceable but not remarkable, although you'll enjoy the scenery-chewing Bullseye and Kingpin. Meanwhile, the death of a major character midway through the film seemed ill-advised and the slow pace will start to make you edgy.

What was more disturbing, at least to me, was that this superhero seemed to be one of the more brutal ones. His brand of cruel justice moves him to throw people off of buildings or to knock them in front of an oncoming subway. Because he is heavy on brute and brawn but light on brains, I'm not sure if this is a hero that I would hail. But, I know that this is a film that I would not recommend.

Grade: C-
S: 1 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 2 out of 3

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