Daredevil (2003) – Review

3 Stars

Editor’s Note: This review is for Daredevil-The Director’s Cut, which runs for 133 minutes. Daredevil is like a distant-cousin to the beloved Spiderman and owes more than a bit to Batman. Cinematically the picture mixes in film noir, particularly in its very good opening act and then settles into the well-worn pattern of its heavily populated genre. This is the second icon from the Marvel universe currently roaming the streets of modern-day New York, though this interpretation envisions the city stained with a slimy green hue that The Matrix made so popular.

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer, born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen and orphaned by his father who was killed at the hands of the crime-boss Kingpin (Duncan). Now Murdock pursues justice in the courtroom during the day, and exacts his own vengeance on criminals at night under the guise of the Daredevil. New York is seemingly over-run by the illegal enterprises controlled by Kingpin and a corrupt police-force either unwilling or not interested in stopping crime. After Daredevil has disabled profit revenues for Kingpin, the criminal mastermind calls in an assassin, the appropriately named Bullseye (Farrell). A chance meeting at a cafe shop between Murdock and heiress Elektra Nachos (Jennifer Garner) leads to one of the strangest courtship in cinema history. The revelation of each character’s superhero alter-ego to one another is a missed opportunity and comes way too early in the story to have an affect.

At roughly two hours and fifteen minutes the movie still feels rushed to include all its plot threads and characters. An especially silly romance is set up and discarded just as quickly with little impact on the story, audience or characters on-screen. This Director’s Cut features nearly twenty minutes of additional footage that mostly includes a sub-plot involving the trial of an innocent man accused of murdering a prostitute. It is not a necessary strand but it does help fuel the Matt Murdock side of the story and Jon Favreau is always a welcomed presence.

Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan make for some of the limpest villains this side of the Bat-Cave, Bullseye fails to hit the mark as a memorable foe and his final battle scene with Daredevil is anti-climactic. Duncan is cast well as the massively structured Kingpin but he is sidelined for long stretches before being revealed as the true nemesis all along, something we are aware of long before the reveal.

The thing that Daredevil does successfully is set up an intriguing back story, present us with an amusing sidekick for our hero, and populate the world they inhabit with just enough weird characters and situations to amuse for the duration of the picture. Would I want to see a follow-up? No. Matt Murdock is not a charismatic enough figure to warrant any sequels. Excuse the pun, but what you see is what you get.

Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan

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