Daredevil

PG13
Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Screenwriter: Mark Steven Johnson, based on the Marvel comic

Daredevil is a comic book that should have stayed on the page and even then I’m not sure it really holds its own in the realm of the superhero.

It features Ben Affleck in the lead role as Matt Murdock, a guy who lost his sight in a horrible accident as a child but developed other superhuman senses from the radioactive something or other to which he was exposed. He fights crime as an attorney by day and as a superhero by night in the Big Apple, a.k.a. New York City.

The problems with the film lie in the script. Matt wakes in a hospital bed after his accident only to be accosted by a unbelievably heightened sense of hearing that totally freaks him out. Everything from heartbeats to hospital monitors to outdoor noises and even footsteps are heard a million times louder than would be normally possible. But in the very next scene he stands comfortably facing a window unbothered by any noise. How did he resolve this head-pounding issue? Beats me.

Over the years, he refines his other senses to become the superhero “Daredevil” he is today. Fair enough. But how is it that the biggest foe he encounters, including one girlfriend, also have super abilities to leap and climb with the same super agility that he has? No clues there either.

Matt can even sense when a beautiful woman walks into a restaurant. That would be Elektra (Jennifer Garner from TV’s Alias), not your average beautiful woman, mind you, but one who can wield dangerous blades, perform martial arts feats and fall instantly in love with this scarred blind guy. Regardless of the absurdity, Garner is so pretty and competent in her role and she surely has enough good chemistry with Affleck to make their scenes together work well.

Matt’s archnemesis is the notorious mob boss Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) whose character is so poorly drawn that be does little but stare out of a window and puff on a big cigar. Kingpin does concede that Daredevil is messing up his business so he orders a real lunatic named Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to take him out. Except for the luscious Garner, Farrell’s take on his character, a perfect comic book villain in look and manner, is perhaps the most interesting thing in the movie. But his talent is supposed to lie in his inability to miss a target with any weapon that he happens to have on hand, not necessarily to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Lotta says: I always found it hard to take Ben Affleck seriously as an actor (although I do admit I found his performance in Changing Lanes palatable), but now with his role as Daredevil, I don’t have to worry about it. Not only is he not right for the part, the part isn’t even right for the film medium. Rated PG13 for some violence. Also features: David Keith as Matt’s bummed out boxing dad Jack Murdock, Joe Pantoliano as city beat reporter Ben Urich and Erick Avari as Elektra’s father Natchios.

Reviewed 2/14/03