directed by Rob Bowman
starring Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp, Kirsten Prout
It’s mind-boggling to imagine that a major studio could make a boring film that starred Jennifer Garner, but somehow Regency has. With an armload of advantages to work with — an unbelievably appealing, perfect-for-the-role actress, a great comic book character already introduced in an earlier film and a world-wide resurgence of the martial arts genre, one would think a team of half-wits could churn out something that was better than awful, let alone people who supposedly know what they’re doing.
But Elektra, the flick that Garner geeks and comic-book fans have been lusting for since Garner/Elektra’s role in 2003’s Daredevil, is boring. And awful. It’s difficult to determine just where to begin explaining why this latest Marvel Comics entry is so terrible. The whole thing is a mess, from beginning to end. The viewer catches up with Elektra an indeterminate number of years after her death at the hands of Bullseye, as seen in Daredevil. She’s been mystically resurrected by the Man Without Fear’s blind sensei, Stick (Terence Stamp), and, through a series of flashbacks, we see how Elektra’s remarkable hand-to-hand combat skills are honed at his woodsy outdoor dojo. However, Stick casts his sociopathic protégé out of the school, and Elektra becomes a cold-blooded ninja assassin-for-hire.
An unusual hit-assignment comes at a difficult time for Elektra, as she is increasingly besieged by long-forgotten memories of her traumatic childhood. When the troubled killer learns that her would-be victims are a father (Goran Visnjic, TV’s “ER”) and daughter (Kirsten Prout) whom she’d hesitatingly befriended, Elektra just can’t put an arrow through them. Rather, the obsessive-compulsive ass-kicker winds up defending the mysterious family from a) Other, less skilled ninjas and b) A group of super-bad emissaries of the Hand, a mystical Dark Side that Elektra has a confusing history with.
There’s just too much going on in this film, it has a “forced” feeling throughout, and the script is horrendous — perhaps it’s the wrong story to be telling in the first place. Rather than wade through this cinematic swamp, savvy viewers would much rather see a reversal-sequel of the Daredevil flick, with Garner in the lead and Daredevil/real-life flame Ben Affleck in a supporting role. For years, hard-core fans so desperately wanted a similar formula with Catwoman and Batman to materialize; they recently had to settle on Halle Berry’s embarrassment, instead. This Daredevil-less Elektra is not as painful to watch as Catwoman, but it remains just as disappointing. With films such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers elevating the martial arts genre to dizzying artistic heights, director Rob Bowman could have saved this dud by committing a little cinematic larceny. Instead, he filmed Elektra‘s combat scenes as if he had just been inspired by a Xena marathon. Elektra the comic book’s bloody realism is missing from this PG-13 offering; the bad guys disappear in a convenient puff of smoke when gutted or slashed.
Garner could have saved this snoozefest, as well, if she had been given anything remotely resembling substance to work with. The movie will naturally attract those who tune in to her TV show every week, but if they hope to see a scantily clad sexpot breeze through a compelling plot, they’d best stay in front of the boob tube. Garner only dons Elektra’s eye-popping red costume twice — and briefly, at that.
The makers of this celluloid “sure thing” gone criminally awry should be forced to pay some sort of restitution, perform some act of penance for what they’ve done to one of Marvel Comics’ tastiest characters. There isn’t one redeemable aspect of Elektra, nothing about it to recommend to anyone — don’t even bother to rent it; if one just has to fulfill some masochistic urge, at least wait until Elektra comes to USA or TNT. The wait shouldn’t be long.
Elektra Movie: www.elektramovie.com