R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Rob Bowman
scr Zak Penn, Stuart Zicherman, Raven Metzner
with Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Terence Stamp, Colin Cunningham, Will Yun Lee, Natassia Malthe, Chris Ackerman, Bob Sapp, Edson T Ribeiro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jason Isaacs
release US 14.Jan.05,
UK 21.Jan.05
05/US Fox 1h38

A dark and introspective rom-com? Visnjic and Garner

garner visnjic stamp

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Elektra This Daredevil spin-off is almost bad enough to be a guilty pleasure, except that it takes itself so seriously! While there's some offhanded humour and dramatic subtext, it's not exciting or interesting enough to be more than merely watchable.

After being killed in Daredevil, Elektra (Garner) is reborn at the hands of martial arts guru Stick (Stamp), who trains her into a prescient fighter. But when she fails to overcome the emotional residue of her troubled childhood, he throws her out of school and she goes to work with McCabe (Cunningham) as an assassin for hire. Then she meets Mark (Visjnic) and his daughter Abby (Prout), and soon they're all on the run from The Hand, an evil group trying to recruit the world's most powerful warriors.

The plot is actually rather intriguing, and it's nice to see a comic book movie that dares to spend so much time establishing and exploring its central character. But the shifts from thriller to psychological drama to romantic comedy to action adventure are uneven, and the film ends up as a series of almost unrelated scenes without gelling into a coherent rhythm.

Garner is fine in the central role--combining tough expertise with inner vulnerability--but her red costume is almost as ridiculously impractical as Halle Berry's Catwoman get-up. It's hard to say whether Stamp is going for minimalist or downright goofy with his camp performance. And the five-person gang of villains (Lee, Malthe, Ackerman, Sapp and Ribeiro) are like escapees from an X-Men movie. Although this isn't surprising considering both are Marvel franchises.

The filmmaking is stylish and inventive enough to keep our attention--well-choreographed fights and eerie flashbacks add energy and emotion, although there's a bit too much battle posing to take anything seriously. As the epic war between good and evil escalates, tiny details begin to niggle (like why the bad guys vanish in a puff of green smoke when they die), and the filmmakers start shamelessly pulling the emotional heartstrings. But by then we've given up trying to figure out what this film is trying to do or say.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 17.Jan.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Elektra Ronan, Spain: 3.5/5 "Even if I agree that there's inconsistency of the scenes, tiny or not so tiny details missing and many other failures, I'm fascinated by it. For a start, Jennifer Garner does indeed a very good job: seemingly cold and efficient, acually deeply insecure, scared and obsessive. She portrays all of this wonderfully. The general plot is fascinating: a woman like this fighting against a group of martial artists who are, a priori, much stronger and more confident than she is. But the true central battle of the film takes place in Elektra's heart: can she forgive the scared and lonely child that has turned into a cold-blooded assassin? Can she love and be loved? Can she make the transition from killing machine to compassionate human again? I know: all the deep drama I mention is done in a commercial, hollywood style, and the script is patchy and mediocre. But still I believe this is an action movie with a difference: it has a soul. And not so many action movies spend their first half hour analysing the character, with almost no dialogue." (25.Apr.05)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall