“Daredevil” fights to find balance

For a film that could easily be overshadowed by the lead actor’s love life or the success of a web-slinging superhero, “Daredevil” manages to emerge as a champion with few major stumbles.

“Daredevil,” which is set almost entirely in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, follows the exploits of a blind man, Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck).

As a child, he discovers his father is dead, and vows to ensure justice is served through the legal system as a lawyer or violent acts of vigilantism as Daredevil, a superhero with enhanced senses.

Like other films based on comic book characters, “Daredevil” is forced to compact decades of a hero’s emotional growth into a 90-minute block of time. The end result is unfortunately a flat, vengeful, ultimately weaker superhero with more addictive drugs in his medicine cabinet than a small pharmacy.

Affleck attempts and fails to make the character more complex than the screenwriters allow him to be. For instance, during a pivotal battle against the Kingpin of crime (Michael Clarke Duncan), Daredevil’s reason for not killing the man responsible for his father’s death is the cliché, “Because I’m not the bad guy”.

Although the film fails to make Daredevil astonishing, the characters of Bullseye (Colin Farrel) and Elektra (Jennifer Garner) pick up the slack. Bullseye, an assassin hired by the Kingpin, provides twisted humor with the 101 ways he uses to kill intended targets or people that just get on his bad side.

Jennifer Garner’s portrayal of the martial arts trained Elektra provides the most intriguing and well-rounded character in the film, as well as a love interest for Daredevil. Elektra exudes confidence, sexuality, and poise (everything that Kirsten Dunst tried to bring to a dryly acted Mary Jane Watson in “Spider-Man”).

Ultimately, the essence of “Daredevil” comes down to the masterfully shot action sequences. With acrobatics, hand-to-hand combat sequences and vibrant cinematography combined with the requisite explosions and gunfights, the film masters the art of realistic appearing action sequences.

The film was a wonderful effort but lost some meaning by trying to simplify the true nature of the hero’s plight into a good-and-evil affair. The writers try so hard to control the direction of the audience’s emotions that they almost hinder this strong cast’s ability to tell the story of a vigilante willing to go to any extreme to create justice.

Jason E Hutchins can be reached at Je_hutchins@hotmail.com