Daredevil (2003)

daredevil IMDb

Little Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel Affleck are sitting at the dining room table, happily eating dinner with their parents.

“Mommy, how did you meet Daddy?”, one of them coos angelically.
Jennifer Garner turns to her husband Ben and smiles, “Should we show them, honey?”
Ben smiles back, “Sure. Why not.”

Later the happy family sits down in front of the television and Ben pops in a DVD of Daredevil. “This is how we met!” exclaims Garner.

One hundred and three minutes later the kids regret asking the question.

As far as superhero movies go, this one is way down there with Green Lantern and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The story is the sort of generic fare that makes up most of the genre, but here it’s incredibly boring. I guess the actors do a good job. To be honest it was hard to really pay attention to this movie at all. I’ve never been a fan of Affleck, but he’s at his best in dramas and comedies. This can’t decide if it’s trying to be serious or funny, and just falls flat.

I’m also not in love with the character. The blindness angle is fine, I can buy his preternatural sonar sensing abilities (I’ve suspended disbelief for far less plausible things). It’s more his alter ego that bugs me. Matt Murdock is a lawyer who only defends innocent people. Would there really be that many innocently accused in New York City? How does that vetting process work?

Elektra (Garner) is also a bland superhero. She displays impressive martial arts skills, but little personality. Again, Garner is better suited in other things, comedies especially. Here she’s given little humor, and her performance is forgettable. Literally the only scene featuring her that I can recall is a ridiculous play-fight between Elektra and Murdock on a playground. This scene apparently took forever to shoot, but hardly seems worth it.

The only good thing to come out of Daredevil was the pairing of Affleck and Garner in real life. They seem like a great couple. Another positive is that this movie was a big enough disappointment that no sequel was made and the film rights have reverted back to Marvel. Seeing how great The Avengers and all its associated solo films have been leaves me hopefully that maybe they can do the same for Daredevil.

Rating: D-

Something just doesn’t feel right with this film. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is though. Ben Affleck is good as the titular blind superhero. Jennifer Garner is sexy enough as Elektra, his love interest/fellow vigilante. Colin Farrell is menacing as the insane villain Bullseye, and Michael Clarke Duncan is very intimidating as Kingpin, the big boss controlling all the crime in New York. But for whatever reason, this film just doesn’t work. I have read that there is a director’s cut of Daredevil that adds 30 minutes to the film and includes much more character development and action than the version released in theatres. I would like to see this version because there was definitely something missing from the one I saw. Apparently there were several scenes cut from the theatrical version so the studio could receive a PG-13 rating. I understand why a PG-13 rating was desired, although I’m not sure it should have been. Daredevil is historically a very dark character in the comics, so it would make sense for his movies to be somewhat dark also. While this film has its moments, it fails to capture the comic book roots of the Daredevil character sufficiently.

Affleck stars as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who went blind after an accident involving toxic waste when he was a child. As a result of this accident, all of his remaining senses were heightened. Murdock uses these powers to become the vigilante protector of the innocent, Daredevil. His city is filled with criminals and corrupt cops, all controlled by Kingpin. Daredevil sets out to stop the crime and put Kingpin behind bars. Along the way he meets Elektra, whose father is caught up in Kingpin’s world. When Kingpin attacks her family, Elektra sets out for vengeance, and mistakenly thinks Daredevil is also responsible. In reality, it was Kingpin’s assassin Bullseye who has come to town to take care of Daredevil and Elektra. Daredevil must save the day, while also trying to woo Elektra and represent innocent victims of crime in his guise of Matt Murdock.

Like I said, it’s really hard to say what’s wrong with this film. It is a generic story, but if done well, those can still work. I guess this is not done well. All of the leads try hard, and are entertaining, but the story is lacking. Daredevil feels like a B grade version of Batman to me, and has many of the same themes of that character. Which is interesting, considering that Ben Affleck has recently been cast as the newest incarnation of Batman. I’ll be interested to see what he can do with the character, because he is good as Daredevil, and has become quite accomplished in the years since this film. It is definitely not his fault I didn’t like Daredevil as much as I wanted too. Jennifer Garner is fine as Elektra. She was flavour of the month when this film was made thanks to her TV show, Alias. She fills out her leather outfit nicely as Elektra. Her character is certainly an improvement over the terrible Elektra solo movie she made a few years later. As a reader of the comics though, I feel like Elektra should be more of a badass and not the damsel in distress that she comes across as sometimes. Colin Farrell is clearly having fun as Bullseye, he is the most entertaining character of the film for me. He is menacing, like any good villain, and also has most of the laughs in this film.

I really wanted to like this film, I don’t think the character of Daredevil works though. I would not write him off just yet like I do Hulk, but I’m not sure Daredevil works as  a solo character. I’d like to see him as part of an ensemble and see how the character works there. I had always thought Hulk struggled in his solo movies, but when he only plays a minor role in Avengers, he is one of the most entertaining parts of the film. I wonder if Daredevil wouldn’t be the same.

Rating: C-


One thought on “Daredevil (2003)

  1. Pingback: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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