Superhero Month: "Daredevil" Review

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A 2003 fantasy/action crime/thriller based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero. Starring in the role of the movie's superhero is Ben Affleck, while Jennifer Garner plays his love interest, Elektra Natchios. The villain of the story, Bullseye, is portrayed by Colin Farrell.
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Superhero Month: "Daredevil" Review

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: February 14, 2003
Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Genre: Action/Crime/Fantasy

"Daredevil" brings one of Marvel Comics' favorite superheroes to life. The Daredevil character was created around the same period as Spider-Man, and both have similar histories. Each of them suffered accidents that led them to have super powers, and both characters have dedicated their lives to fighting the never-ending battle of good versus evil.

"Daredevil" is the story of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) who was involved in a childhood accident that involved a toxic substance. The accident caused him to lose his eyesight but made all his other senses hypersensitive, giving him something called a radar sense. Although he cannot see, Murdock is able to sense what is going on around him. As an adult, Murdock became a criminal lawyer serving New York's Hell's Kitchen area. His law partner is Franklin Nelson (Jon Favreau), known simply as Foggy. When Murdock's day job is done, he becomes a masked avenger highly skilled in martial arts. Murdock's campaign against evil is mainly driven by the murder of his father, who had dabbled in the Mob early on, and he is committed to avenging his death.

Much of the movie deals with Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), also known as Kingpin, who is the undisputed leader of New York's criminal underworld. Nikolas Natchios (Erick Avari), a businessman with a beautiful daughter, inadvertently gets caught up in Kingpin's world and bails on an agreed business transaction. Fisk calls upon an Irish hitman, known simply as Bullseye (Colin Farrell), to kill him. Daredevil gets wind of the plan and attempts to stop Bullseye, but he is unsuccessful and only succeeds in being framed for Natchios' murder.

Natchios' daughter, Elektra (Jennifer Garner), swears to get revenge for her father's murder. Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano), a local reporter looking into Daredevil's activities, finally figures out who really is the man behind the mask. He knows of all the good things Daredevil has done for Hell's Kitchen, and tells Daredevil that Bullseye's next hit will be on Elektra. Although Daredevil tries to save her by going after Bullseye himself, Elektra goes after Daredevil, still believing him to be the one who killed her father.She wounds him, removes his ever-present mask, realizes who he is and understands that he is innocent of the crime. With Daredevil wounded, she must fight Bullseye alone, eventually losing her own life.

In the end, although he is heartbroken over the loss of Elektra, Daredevil confronts Fisk. Instead of killing him, he waits for the police to take him into custody. Urich agrees not to publish the story of Daredevil's identity and Kingpin and Bullseye while away their days in prison.

Ben Affleck was aptly cast as the Daredevil, having played large roles like this in previous films. Affleck's film career started in 1981 with bit parts in feature films and made-for-television movies. His breakout role came in 1997 when he played Chuckie Sullivan in "Good Will Hunting." He followed that up in 1998 with the role of A.J. Frost in "Armageddon," which cemented his place on Hollywood's A-list. The list of hit movies starring Ben Affleck is almost endless. Some of the most popular movies he starred in include "Shakespeare in Love," "Forces of Nature," "Reindeer Games," "The Sum of All Fears," "He's Just Not That into You," and the 2012 smash hit "Argo," which won him his second Oscar.

While most of Affleck's films turn out to be hits, that isn't always the case. He starred as Larry Gigli in the much-panned 2003 film "Gigli" with Jennifer Lopez, a movie that he is most likely still trying to forget.

Jennifer Garner was perfectly cast as Daredevil's love interest, Elektra. Not only was her acting superb but also there seemed to be a very real chemistry between Garner and Affleck, which only lent credibility to the movie. Garner has appeared in television series, feature films, and made-for-television movies. She is well-known for her role as Sydney Bristow in the television series "Alias," and for playing the character Gray in the 2006 hit "Catch and Release."

While "Daredevil" appears to be the quintessential superhero movie, there is something real about the story and the characters. The love between Daredevil and Elektra is moving, and the relationships Murdock has with the other characters appear to have more depth than is normally seen in these types of flicks, despite the fact that many of the actors were new to this genre.

Rating: 3 out of 5