[MOVIE REVIEW]Ride with the Daredevil? Nope, I’d rather walkCongratulations Ben Affleck, you’ve just bested George Clooney for making the worst superhero movie of the modern era. No mean feat, considering Mr. Clooney’s work in the putrid “Batman and Robin.”
Granted, Mr. Affleck has chosen the Daredevil, and he has been hard to peg ever since the blind “Man Without Fear,” Matt Murdock, was introduced by Marvel Comics in the 1960s. Blinded by radioactive chemicals that super-enhanced his remaining senses, “Daredevil” swung in obscurity through the streets of New York in his cheesy yellow costume (the switch to red came in the 1970s) for nearly two decades.
Then Frank Miller, a young hot-shot writer-artist, took over the reins in one of the most successful and creative runs in comic book history (the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise began as a parody of Mr. Miller’s work on “Daredevil”).
Under Mr. Miller’s nib, the “Daredevil” took on darker shadings, with a Raymond Chandler-esque edge. Characters were tweaked, twisted and re-imagined until “Daredevil” became a film noir tale that was operatic in scope.
Central to Mr. Miller’s story was the Elektra saga, the account of Murdock’s long-lost love for Elektra, now a ninja assassin enbroiled in a war with another hit man named Bullseye.
The movie “Daredevil” wisely takes its plot from this story cycle. But that’s where its wisdom ends. In its attempts at being dark, the film is merely cheesy. In its attempts at coolness, it’s merely flippant. And in its attempts at depth, it’s simply ridiculous.
“Daredevil” is mostly told in flashback by Murdock himself. Mr. Affleck gives Daredevil the tortured soul of a Hollywood pretty boy ― not the brooding depths needed to convincingly portray a vengeance-obsessed vigilante.
Early on in the film, Murdock the lawyer loses a sexual assault case, and soon afterward beats the bejeezus out of the accused man in his quest for justice. Considering how lousy a lawyer Murdock is, he should have beaten himself up.
Actually, he should have considered beating up the movie’s director, Mark Steven Johnson, since “Daredevil” is devoid of physics, logic or nuance. The only aspect of the film that is marginally interesting under Mr. Johnson’s direction is his portrayal of Murdock’s radar sense. It’s a nifty special effect, but it takes up 30 seconds of screen time. The other 102 minutes are an ugly, lumpen mess.
For example, there’s a showdown between Daredevil and his arch nemesis. But in the film, Daredevil’s enemy barely knows who the hero is, let alone has any reason to be so bent out of shape by the blind superhero.
Ultimately “Daredevil” is like a paint-by-numbers kit. It has the recognizable shape of a great work of art, but none of the artistry and none of the spirit.
by Mark Russell