2003 - PG-13 - 103 Mins.
|Director: Mark Steven Johnson
|Producer: Arnon Milchan, Gary Foster, Avi Arad
|Written By: Mark Steven Johnson
|Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell as Bullseye.
|Review by: John Ulmer
"Daredevil" doesn't stand a chance against such amazing comic-to-film transitions such as the recent "X-Men 2," or "Spider-Man," but if you drop all expectations of greatness before entering the theater, you're sure to enjoy yourself in this pure escapist film.
The technique is simple, and it could even be called misused. It is about a superhero with special powers. WOW! Original! Seriously, what superhero doesn't have superpowers? You can't call "Daredevil" a bad film just for having a superhero in it. But if you dig a bit deeper, you'll see why people don't enjoy it as much.
The Superhero of Our Film is named Daredevil (hence the title). His real name is Matthew Murdock, and as a child he was blinded by toxic waste. I'm giving you the short story, saving you the over-used tale of the father who cared enough to become a muscle man, and when the kid found out his father beat people up for a living, he ran away, etc., etc., until he fell in some toxic waste and blinded himself. But, of course, this sharpened his remaining four senses, for some reason or other, and he could hear things, feel things, and balance himself much better. (Though those with any sense of logic will realize the sense of touch would never enable someone to fly hundreds of feet from a skyscraper and land on a staircase without shattering some bones.) In fact, young Matthew soon realizes he can form sonar from bouncing sounds, much like a bat. In fact, the film even creates its own technique of showing the POV of Matt, and the sonar bouncing around creating images. Impressive the first time, neat the second time, enjoyable the third time, over-used the fourth + time.
Like all superhero films, there are always plenty of cheesy costumes, loud music, and big fights. "Daredevil" adds more to this. It features over-stylized costumes, with hard rock music blaring out the sound of any gunshots during the intense and fast-moving battle sequences. This is one of the things about the film that so many people love to hate. But I truly believe that if you, the viewer, watch this movie with low expecations, you will realize these elements add to the forgettability (is that a word?) of the film. It doesn't try to be "Spider-Man" (okay, maybe it does, but it doesn't push it too hard). It doesn't try to become memorable. It was even released away from other comic book films because it knew it could never compete. It was created for one thing, and one thing only: Fun. That's all it is.
Superhero films always have a plot, no matter how mind-numbingly bad. "Daredevil's" plot isn't that bad (though it isn't too original), and I'll give you all the main bits.
Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) grows up to be a lawyer by day, a vigilante by night. He fights for justice, i.e. he beats the spit out of anyone he doesn't like. (Hey, it's the truth!) Matt thinks a man is guilty of rape charges, and so after the man gets an acquittal, he chases him down and beats him up (and I bet Academy Award Winner Ben Affleck never thought he would ever say, "See that light at the end of the tunnel? That's not heaven - it's the A-train!"). Somehow the way this scene is presented doesn't come off with the same amount of emotion as did the scene where Peter Parker chased down the killer of his uncle. It lacks the umph. But oh well.
Matt beats people up, then works as a lawyer by day. That's established. Then he meets Elektra (masculine-looking Jennifer Garner), and falls in love. Cut out the side-tracking, and the plot comes down to a Manhattan kingpin, named Kingpin (how original!), killing Elektra's father, and then going after Elektra herself. He uses Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to assassinate his victims. Daredevil steps in, fights, yadda-yadda, the finale.
Kingpin is played by Michael Clarke Duncan, most noticably remembered as the innocent accused in "The Green Mile." His hitman, Bullseye, is one original character. His name is Bullseye, and he's got a bullseye on his head. Originality's peak for this film. The character, Bullseye, is one messed-up hitman, who makes it a personal vendetta to murder Daredevil after he makes Bullseye miss a dart throw at Bullseye's victim, Elektra's father. "You made me miss!" he shouts. "I never miss!" I nearly laughed.
You'll notice how I seem to be picking apart this film. But, you see, that's what is so fun about "Daredevil." It doesn't try to be anything it isn't, and it's obvious plot holes almost seem a self-parody. If you take a close look at the film, you'll hate it. If you analyze and "gimme a break" everything, you won't enjoy it. But if you sit back, chew the popcorn and forget about everything, you're guaranteed to have a fun, if forgettable time at the movies.