Daredevil Review

by Jerry Saravia (faust668 AT aol DOT com)
September 2nd, 2003

Reviewed by Jerry Saravia
RATING: Two stars

For some reason, the Marvel comic-book hero Daredevil has never been a favorite of mine. Maybe it is that red suit or the fact that he seemed more human than superhuman. Who knows. I still find Spider-Man to be the most effective superhero of all time because of his genuine flaws and the fact that he sometimes he failed (remember the death of Gwen Stacy?) Granted that Daredevil has his flaws but this big-screen version starring Ben Affleck rarely captures his humanity, and that is one of many reasons it doesn't work.

The opening sequence is promising as it details Daredevil's origins. As a kid living in Hell's Kitchen, his father, a boxer nicknamed the Devil (David Keith), is seen working for the mob. The kid is so distraught at seeing his father involved in such business that he accidentally gets sprayed with toxic chemicals. This leaves the kid with a permanent loss of sight that has enhanced his aural capabilities, to the point where traffic and other noises get raised to a high decibel level. Naturally, such capabilities help him fight neighborhood bullies, including having a sixth sense that somehow allows him to see visions in bluish color. Cut to twenty years later, Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is a blind lawyer by day, a superhero in tights at night. His mission is to rid of crime in the neighborhood streets, which includes any minions working for cigar-chomping Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), the resident crime boss of New York. For Kingpin to able to operate, he needs to get rid of Daredevil. He hires Bullseye (Colin Ferrell), an Irish psychopathic freak whose one novelty is being able to throw anything at an intended target without ever missing (until he runs into Daredevil). His specialty includes knives, darts, pins, playing cards and even peanuts! Don't let any swords get in his hands.
In the meantime, Matt has a fling with a limber woman named Elektra (Jennifer Garner), who is quite the super athlete, not to mention adept at the martial-arts. Unfortunately, she is on Kingpin's hit list since her father had worked for the big boss. Can Daredevil save her in time, or is Kingpin more than he bargained for?

"Daredevil" starts strong and then quickly dissipates into an empty shell of a movie. All we learn about Matt Murdock is that he is a vigilante, aiming for revenge for his father's death, and also a Catholic who goes to confession on a regular basis. As played by Affleck, there is not much more to the character and, frankly, Affleck is not capable of giving much either. There is no sense of charisma or spark to the character, and how the heck can this CGI Daredevil defy the laws of physics and gravity? He flies around town with the ease of Spider-Man - where he did acquire such superhuman strength? I thought he just had those miraculous senses! In fact, everyone in this movie defies the laws of gravity, including a completely unbelievable introductory fight scene between Elektra and Daredevil. I don't expect much believability in comic-book movies but there must be some sense of logic. It has become a cliche to copy the slow-motion CGI effects of "The Matrix" to the point of numbing repetition - how often can we see a character do a backflip in mid-air in slow-motion during a fight scene? Enough already.

If there is one aspect of "Daredevil" I truly enjoyed, it was Jennifer Garner's spunky, funny, humane performance as Elektra. She doesn't merit much screen time, but what there is enough to make me a fan (I hear that an "Elektra" movie is in the works). I have not seen her series "Alias" but I loved her brief role in "Catch Me if You Can." She has what the rest of the flatly mediocre "Daredevil" lacks: magic.

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