Comic book adaptations are one of the staple sources for movie makers and in recent years the number has grown phenomenally (and due to their success we are going to see many more in the near future). Although not as well known as other Marvel superheroes, the Daredevil has built up a considerable fan base and is somewhat of a cult hero. He’s one of the most flawed characters around and thankfully director Mark Steven Johnson didn’t shy away from showing his weaknesses on the big screen.
Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is a blind lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. By day he fights for justice using the law and by night he don’s a red leather outfit and fights for justice using methods that rest outside of the law (i.e. beating the crap out of the guilty). He does this to fulfil a promise to his father, and ex-boxer, beaten to death; a promise to defend those who cannot defend themselves and to uphold justice.
The cause behind Matt’s blindness was an accident involving (yes, that old cliché) radioactive material, when he was 12 years old. Even though he lost his sight, he’s remaining senses increased and he also discovered a sonar sense that enables him to ‘see’ using sound waves. Using these powers he prowls the night doling out justice to the guilty, before returning home to pop pain killers and recuperate.
The one ray of happiness that enters Matt’s life is Electra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), the beautiful daughter of one of the crime lords of New York. When former partner and crime boss, the Kingpin (Michel Clark Duncan) decides that Electra’s father is the most useful underground than over, he enlists the skills of Bullseye (Colin Farrell), a hitman who can make anything into a lethal weapon from paperclips to playing cards utilising his throwing skills.
Unfortunately, whilst trying to prevent the assassination of Electra’s father, the Daredevil inadvertently becomes the number one suspect and Electra vows revenge.
So with Electra after the Daredevil, not realising that he is the man she loves and Bullseye after them both, Matt discovers that the Kingpin played and important part in his past, a part that cannot be forgiven.
Daredevil is one of the boldest superhero films of recent and actually includes parts that other films such as Spiderman and X-men would avoid to be more appealing to younger audiences. Scenes such as having the hero not only watch someone getting killed, but seems to relish in it – other heroes would have saved the guilty man and either left him hanging from a lamp post in webbing or handed him over to the cops. Daredevil is also much more violent and brutal than other superhero films and has an overall much more grown-up feel to it.
Performances range from good, to okay to acting so over the top that the standards been lifted (but that is in now way a bad thing here!). Ben Affleck manages to turn down his smarminess and is actually quite good as the anguished hero. Jennifer Garner (and her Wonderbra) makes for an impressive love interest and she is surprisingly good – very easy on the eye. Michael Clark Duncan is imposing as ever, with his deep growling voice and cigar-chewing posturing he is very threatening – unfortunately beyond this his role is very limited, which is a shame as more of his character would have been great. Colin Farrell just lets loose as Bullseye, which is really fun to watch (especially his flight to New York). Again, it’s a shame that more screen time (and background info) on his character wasn’t shown – two villains who had much more potential.
Overall Daredevil is a good film, but with a disappointing end showdown and some ropey CGI effects, it’s not as perfect as one might have hoped. Some action scenes are too digitally enhanced and difficult to follow. The Daredevil’s sonar effects are done very well and deserve special mention. The story is the same as most superhero films; creation of hero, hero swears parent/uncle/family/anyone close who is killed that they will fight crime and uphold justice, before facing off against the villain – no surprises with Daredevil either.
There are good aspects – like everyone rips off the Daredevil’s mask whenever they get the opportunity, again unlike other films where no-one even tries (naming no names – Spiderman), but other parts don’t gel 100%. It is, however, a good first film that has potential to be a great franchise.
And just one last thing – stay till after the credits to see what happens to one of the characters.
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