Daredevil (2003) starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith directed by Mark Steven Johnson Movie Review

Daredevil (2003)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in Daredevil

A Padded Double D

As someone who has never read a "Daredevil" comic book I can't say how true to it's origin the movie version of "Daredevil" is, although some how I feel that it has struggled to capture the character. And as such what "Daredevil" ends up is a fun super hero action flick which is heavy on action but does little to advance the super hero genre and in some ways goes back a decade creating something more akin to the Tim Burton "Batman" movies. In fact not only is the styling very similar to Tim Burton's "Batman" but so is the actual character of this vigilante who by day is a lawyer but by night dons a red leather costume to fight crime. As such whilst "Daredevil" is entertaining to watch I doubt it will be high on the list of movies for super hero fans.

As a young boy Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck - Boiler Room) not only lost his sight in an accident with hazardous chemicals but also his father who is murdered by the local Kingpin. Vowing to avenge his father's death Matt grows into quite a respectable young man working as a lawyer by day but turns into Daredevil at night, a vigilante who stalks the roof tops of Hell's Kitchen, looking to stop crime, using his heightened senses brought on by being blind. But Matt's life becomes messy when he meets Elektra (Jennifer Garner - Catch Me if You Can) whose father appears to be linked to the local Kingpin.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in Daredevil

As you would expect of a movie which introduces a super hero to the mass cinema going public the first part of the movie serves up an introduction to how Daredevil came about. And so we watch how young Matt Murdock lose his sight when chemicals spill over him at the same time his other sense becoming stronger and gaining a sixth sense by seeing via a different way. On top of this we learn that his father is killed by a Kingpin causing Matt to dedicate his life to fighting crime. It's not the worst set up although it seems to leave a lot unanswered which is an ongoing theme as "Daredevil" appears to be a movie hacked to death in the editing room to get it down to a relatively short running length.

Having given us the history "Daredevil" then settles down into the main story where not only does Matt find love when he meets Elektra Natchios, a scene where trying to beat the crap out of each other in a "Matrix" style is flirting, but also having to battle the Kingpin who is on a killing spree with the help of the evil Bullseye. I'm not going to lie because the storyline is standard, there is no way to embellish it, it is basically a good guy against bad guys which at the same time allows the good guy to deal with his inner demons by taking on the man who killed his father. As such it is an adequate storyline, again a bit choppy with many unanswered questions thanks to the hatchet job in the editing room but is basically what you expect from what in theory is an establishing super hero movie.

What is quite amusing and in someway causes problems is that "Daredevil" ends up being so similar to "Batman" and in particular the "Batman" of the 80s. So whilst "Daredevil" is set in New York there is almost a darkness to it as a lot of the action happens at night on roof tops which happen to be adorned with gargoyles. And then there is Daredevil himself, basically a normal guy who turns vigilante, battling inner demons brought on by the death of his father. He even dons a suit and mask whilst battling crime and uses a fancy weapon to tackle the baddies. I could go on because it almost feels like director and writer Mark Steven Johnson had studied what Tim Burton did with "Batman" and tried to emulate it to the point that bad guy Bullseye feels like an over the top baddie. All of which wouldn't have been an issue if it wasn't for the fact super hero movies had moved on from the comedy and darkness of the 80s and so "Daredevil" feels out of place and dated.

And because of it being out dated and a little too similar to "Batman" in style the acting and characters end up bordering on the laughable. Ben Affleck whilst pulls of the sincerity of Matt really struggles to capture the super hero element to his alter ego Daredevil and as such comes across incredibly weak. It doesn't help that the cheesy dialogue he gets seems at odds with the attempts to delve into his tortured psyche. Add to this Colin Farrell as the outrageously over the top Bullseye and Michael Clarke Duncan who seems to be having a fun old time playing the Kingpin and it all feels wrong. The only person who comes out of "Daredevil" with a good performance is Jennifer Garner who actually makes Elektra more than just a 2 dimensional beauty.

The saving grace, the thing which makes "Daredevil" enjoyable is that it is full of action and some of it is quite good. Amusingly the best action sequence comes from when Matt and Elektra battle it out in some form or weird flirting. Yes it's cheesy with some "Matrix" style posing and full of impossible martial arts moves but it grabs your attention and makes you smile. In fact that single action scene is so good that when Daredevil ends up battling Bullseye and Kingpin they almost feel week in comparison.

What this all boils down to is that if you compare "Daredevil" to other super hero movies which came out at the same time it feels seriously inferior as it appears to hark back to Tim Burton's "Batman" of the 80s. But it is strangely entertaining when you accept that it jerks along thanks to some major editing and is full of comic book cheese.