'Daredevil': all action, no heart
Batman, Superman, Spidey, and now Daredevil?
Yes, Daredevil, the comic-book hero created in 1964 by Stan Lee is now a big Hollywood movie.
Ten minutes into it, you won't need superhuman senses to realize it won't be a great movie. But hey, at least we get to watch Ben Affleck flip around in tight red leather pants, right? Well, maybe not. He also wears a cowl with horns, which looks ridiculous. Batman pulls off this look much better.
Affleck plays Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day, action hero by night. He sleeps in a metal coffin filled with water (I'm not sure why). He has special powers, but we don't know how he got them.
He started his life with sight, but lost it as a young boy in an accident involving biohazardous materials. Suddenly, he has heightened senses, can leap from building to building, and fight expertly with his walking stick.
He's bent on revenge against Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a corrupt underworld boss who killed his father when they disagreed on a business matter. Kingpin traditionally drops a rose on everybody he kills. A profound moment falls flat as the young boy picks the prickly rose off his father's chest and squeezes it hard. The blood slowly drips from his hand. "I will seek justice one way or another," he says, emotionless.
Daredevil talks to himself a lot, which forces one to burst out laughing. He repeatedly reminds us: "I'm not the bad guy." In another scene, he tries to be philosophical - "Can one make a difference? There are days when I believe, and others where I have lost all faith." (Laughter again.)
It's obvious that writer-director Mark Steven Johnson wanted to fit in as much fighting and violence as he could - even when Murdock meets a potential love interest. While sitting in a coffee shop one day, a young woman walks in and Murdock can simply smell her beauty. He wants to find out her name, but he must fight her for it first. She turns out to be Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Apparently, she has superpowers, too, and they duke it out in a nearby park. The action scenes are perfectly choreographed, some of which include them teetering on a seesaw.
There's also a character named Bullseye, played by Hollywood bad boy Colin Farrell. He has no costume, only a bullseye engraved into his forehead. He takes pleasure in shooting people in the neck with paper clips, pencils, and metal blades. He never misses - until he meets Daredevil, of course.
Jon Favreau offers some comic relief as Affleck's law partner, but since the story is so flat to begin with, he doesn't elevate the movie to new heights. Sure, there's plenty of action - almost too much - but the characters aren't likable, it's thin on plot, and the acting is robotic. This is certainly no "Spider-Man." It's a dark, gritty world, and the bloody violence is exhausting and grotesque. "Daredevil" was released early in the year to jump ahead of "The Hulk," "X2," and "Matrix Reloaded." But instead of hitting the bullseye, it has missed it completely.
• Rated PG-13; with nonstop violence.