Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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Affleck moonlights as murderous vigilante

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnston
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Colin Farrell

By Brent Carpenter
Gazette Staff

For all its flaws, Daredevil is still a pretty entertaining popcorn-flick, with enough action to make up for the underdeveloped characters, sloppy action choreography and underdeveloped romantic subplot.

A blatant vanity project for its star, the film asks us to believe that zillionaire frat-boy Ben Affleck is a severely scarred and traumatized Hell's Kitchen lawyer, moonlighting as a murderous vigilante.

By way of an unnecessary, drawn-out and ultimately ineffective flashback sequence, we discover that a young Matt (Affleck) lost his sight when he was accidentally doused in – what else – toxic waste chemicals.

This robs him of his eyesight, but his other four senses are given a superhuman acuteness, "cursing" him with the ability to do what the stereotypically incompetent police force cannot: fight crime.

Doing his best Clint Eastwood impression, the Devil informs us that he prowls the rooftops and alleyways at night, looking for justice – blind justice!

However, since all the criminals in New York City seem to be too bland and generic to warrant any kind of audience interest, the Devil decides that corrupt businessman Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) will make a fine arch-rival.

Duncan, an overwhelming onscreen presence with a voice like a Budweiser frog, is too much of a teddy bear to make a convincing Spy Kids villain, let alone a murderous crime lord in a gothic superhero movie.

Clad in a pinstripe suit, chewing on his cigar and squinting his eyes in an all-too-transparent, "Look, I get to play the heavy!" fashion, Duncan is a truly unconvincing killer.

Playing Matt's romantic interest is Elektra (Jennifer Garner), who shines in her surprisingly brief role, despite the sub-par script.

Easily the most entertaining part of the movie is Colin Farrell in his endearingly over-the-top role as Bullseye, a hired assassin who earns his name because, as we learn, he never misses. Quite a marksman, he can turn seemingly any object – paper clips, pencils, even a peanut – into a deadly weapon.

If it doesn't sound like there's much of a linear plot to Daredevil, it's because there really isn't one. The main problem with this film is that it spends nearly all of its time telling us what we should believe, as opposed to just letting the audience decide on its own. Everything from the romance between Matt and Elektra (which contains an admittedly beautiful rooftop scene in the pouring rain) to the motivations behind the Devil's actions seems forced and contrived.

To its credit, however, the movie is dark. Bones break, many people die and it doesn't exactly contain what modern audiences would consider a "happy ending." This is not a bad thing; rather, it represents the long-awaited return to the Burton-esque gothic stylings of Batman, which is still the standard for comic book adaptations, even in this post-Spiderman age.

Guys, there's also enough romance that your girlfriend may actually forget that you dragged her to a superhero movie called Daredevil.

If nothing else, Daredevil is a mostly entertaining addition to the comic-film canon.


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