Daredevil


Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Written by:Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau
Released: March 20, 2003
Grade: C+

To all, the identity of the Daredevil remains hidden but we all know he is Matt Murdoch, a blind lawyer by day, and superhero by night.  Like all such heroes, there’s a story as to how they became so “super” and writer/director Mark Steven Johnson begins accordingly.  Matt’s father, Jack Murdoch, was an aging boxer, who at the age of 42, was trying to resurrect his once illustrious career.  Known in boxing circles as “the devil”, his advice to his son was to not follow in his footsteps and study hard.

Riding his skateboard home from school, Matt’s life is changed in a freak accident.  A hazardous chemical is spills onto his eyes and he is blinded forever.  For reasons which aren’t exactly made clear, his other four senses become super-enhanced which compensate for his loss of vision.  Finding his feet again, Matt’s life takes downward twist when is father is killed by gangsters and Matt is left an orphan.

 

Next thing we know, Matt has become Daredevil, a guy in a costume who roams the streets at night trying to avenge his father’s demise.  I’d like to think the theatre projectionist inadvertently forgot to show a reel of the film at this point but sadly, not so.  In their haste to get to the guts of the adventure, valuable lead-up information has been overlooked.  How did he learn to harness his powers?  How did he come up with all the weaponry he uses?  How did he make his secret hiding place with the locks and secret compartments?  How did he first begin his quest for removing evil from the streets?  And um, how did he become a lawyer?  The film didn’t need to dwell on these points but a quick series of scenes showing his “evolution” wouldn’t have gone astray.

 

Moving on to the current time frame, Matt meets his token female interest, Elektra, played by the stunning Elizabeth Garner.  Elektra is soon to be an orphan herself when her billionaire father is killed by a mystery “kingpin” who seemingly controls the streets of the city.  Putting two and two together, they understand the same person was responsible for each of their father’s deaths – it’s the wealthy Fisk (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) who has sent his best henchman, Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to finish them off.

 

To continue my criticism, there are further inconsistencies through this part of the film.  Daredevil is able to jump off 50-story buildings and land safely on his feet without explanation.  He’s also got an ability to dodge bullets and other projectiles by swerving all over the place and doing back flips.  It’s silly and is just an excuse for director Mark Steven Johnson to use more special effects (heavily borrowed from other films) and flashy editing.

 

Speaking of the film’s editing, the fight scenes are poorly cut and with an insanely large number of individual shots and a feeble mix of slow/fast motion.  The soundtrack doesn’t work either – there are at least two moments in the film when the pace of the story is broken only to show a montage of scenes backed solely by the soundtrack.  This technique is best served in a music video and not a major motion picture.

 

Amongst the mess, there are positives.  One particular side character of interest was a news reporter played by Joe Pantoliano who is trying to gain information on the Daredevil for his newspaper.  But like so much of the rest of this story, he isn’t fully explained and we have no sense of whether the public, as a result of his articles, are pro or anti Daredevil.

 

There’s very little “daring” about Daredevil.  The screenplay mirrors everything expected of the genre, which to a limited extent is pleasing, but it doesn’t offer any chance of growth.  And with superhero films being churned out at their fastest rate ever, this doesn’t make the grade.