Daredevil Review

by Shannon Patrick Sullivan (shannon AT morgan DOT ucs DOT mun DOT ca)
February 26th, 2003

DAREDEVIL (2003) / ***

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Screenplay by Johnson, based on the comic book characters created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan. Running time: 103 minutes. Rated AA for violent scenes by the MFCB. Reviewed on February 25th, 2003.

By SHANNON PATRICK SULLIVAN

Synopsis: As a boy, Matt Murdock was struck in the eyes by radioactive chemicals, blinding him. As if in compensation, Murdock's other four senses became preternaturally heightened, enabling him to train to become the costumed vigilante Daredevil. By day a lawyer, Murdock (Affleck) falls for the charming Elektra Natchios (Garner), whose father has been targeted for assassination by Wilson Fisk (Duncan), the Kingpin of New York crime. Daredevil must go one-on-one with the Kingpin's hired assassin, Bullseye (Colin Farrell), a man famed for never missing a target.

Review: Although the character is less renowned than fellow Marvel Comics super-heroes Spider-Man or the X-Men, "Daredevil" is nonetheless a successful and entertaining film. Much of this is thanks to Johnson's emphasis on character: unlike other overpopulated costumed outings like "Batman & Robin", "Daredevil" never feels crowded, and each of the leads is given ample attention. Particularly good is Garner: sexy, feisty and aggressive without being cartoonish. Affleck is not bad as the conflicted Matt Murdock, but he never quite plumbs the depths of the character's inner turmoil, his fear that one man can never make a real difference. Johnson's script is well-written, but overly perfunctory: after spending half an hour to set up the characters, "Daredevil" then feels as if it's in a race to finish. And although Johnson's direction is mostly fine -- consider the stunning opening image of the super-hero clinging to a church crucifix -- this too falters in places, with combat scenes proving notably difficult to follow. Costume designer James Acheson's decision to outfit Daredevil in leather rather than spandex is interesting, but it doesn't quite work, failing to make a strong visual impression. "Daredevil", then, is a good, exciting movie, but one hopes that the filmmakers will give careful consideration to its many flaws prior to the inevitable sequel.
Copyright 2003 Shannon Patrick Sullivan.
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