A superhero movie you’ll soon forgetWe’ve been a bit spoiled lately when it comes to superhero movies. Fine films (relatively speaking) were made out of the “X-Men” and “Hulk” comic books, and last year’s “Spider-Man 2” was so wonderful that it wrecked the curve completely. Even in the more pedestrian “Hellboy,” there was plenty of evidence of wit and imagination. It was getting to the point where the presence of a character with a skin-tight costume and amazing abilities was a good sign instead of a bad one.
So it’s sort of good that “Elektra” (not the mythological figure ―just a namesake) is here to restore the correct perspective. Apparently this character, played by Jennifer Garner, is a spinoff from “Daredevil,” another lukewarm superhero movie from a couple years ago. I saw “Daredevil,” but I have no recollection whatsoever of Jennifer Garner being in it. And yet there she is on the Internet Movie Database, listed right after Ben Affleck in the cast. A couple years from now I doubt I’ll remember anything about “Elektra” either.
The title character is what I suppose one would have to tiresomely call an anti-hero ―an assassin for hire who, despite her profession, has a wounded heart somewhere down in there, crying out for love. Or something like that. She’s a martial arts master, too, because there just haven’t been enough movies, East or West, involving martial arts masters and their paradoxical wisdom and the hardships of their lonely path and the many cool ways in which they can kill people.
It seems there’s been a war going on for centuries between the forces of good and a sinister organization called The Hand. According to the usual ancient prophecy, a woman of great power will be born who will “tip the balance” between good and evil and decide the struggle once and for all. Both The Hand and the forces for good (which don’t have a cool name like The Hand, unless they do and I’ve forgotten it) are scrambling to get this woman on their side.
All this is explained, in the opening narration, by somebody who doesn’t sound very interested. We’re then introduced to Elektra, presumably the woman in question, in the act of killing somebody for money. Fortunately, the victim is a powerful organized crime figure, so we get the thrill of moral ambiguity without the inconvenience of any actual ambiguity.
Besides looking smokin’ in her blood-red dominatrix getup, Garner has a confused-little-girl quality that makes the character a bit more interesting than might have been expected. As near as I could tell from a muddled series of flashbacks, Elektra’s career choice has something to do with her mother having been murdered and her father having been ―well, frankly, I don’t know what the flashbacks were trying to tell us about her father. At any rate, we can assume that deep down, the killer is a lost little girl, and Garner has a sadness and a skittishness about her that convey this pretty well. Other than that, this is the usual: dull special effects; a tepid romantic subplot; an inscrutable martial arts master (Terence Stamp); a villain (Korean-American actor Will Yun Lee) who, just before the final showdown, actually says, “We meet again.” Look at you, you’re yawning already.
Action / English
by David Moll