Daredevil (2003) – Movie Review

Well, just like I said I would in Monday’s Movie News video, tonight I sat down to rewatch the Ben Affleck Daredevil with a plate of Chinese takeout and a two finger pour of Glenlivet.  It should have been a four finger pour.  I forgot just how terrible this movie really is. I have a really bad habit of only remembering the good things about a movie and pushing aside the the bad.  Movies are my escape so it makes sense that I would always err on the side of positivity and that bit me in the ass tonight. Hard. It felt like every time I found something to like about Daredevil, the movie threw out two things that made me cringe or roll my eyes. Without further ado, let’s get into it…..

The dialogue in this movie is atrocious….  just plain awful.  The only character that has any lines worth remembering is Jon Favreau’s Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, who despite the movie around him, manages to shine through.  But sweet mercy, the rest of the script somewhere between wooden and nonsensical. Like Elektra’s line at the ball – “But you should know that the only reason I got dressed up for this thing was that I wanted to look beautiful for you. I wish you could see me tonight.” What the fuck? You know he’s blind but you taunt him by telling him you got all dressed up for him, knowing he can’t see you? And the line is delivered with all seriousness.  At least if it was delivered in such a way to insinuate that Matt/Daredevil should “see” how she’s dressed with his hands then it would make sense but not this movie. No sir.

The plot of this movie is somehow both straightforward and convoluted at the same time.  I guess it’s better to say that it’s made up of several straightforward and bland subplots that never really coalesce into a full movie.  Let’s take a look at all the subplots:

  • Kingpin killed Matt’s father because he didn’t throw a boxing match and Daredevil want’s revenge.
  • Elektra’s father wants out of the shady dealings he has with Kingpin (which are never explained) so Kingpin hires Bullseye to kill him and Elektra.
  • Daredevil makes Bullseye miss so now he hates Daredevil because he “never misses”. (Sure…)
  • Daredevil is a hardcore Catholic apparently (which is true to the character but never explained).
  • Elektra is a ninja badass because daddy didn’t want her to be a victim (believable but a severe watering down of the character).
  • Daredevil and Elektra fall in love in like 5 minutes (Again true to the comics but completely unearned in it’s execution).
  • Ben Urich is all over the vigilante story and is allowed to traipse through active crime scenes (because reasons[?])

If you cut that list in half and developed a movie out of the remaining ones you would have a full, fleshed out movie instead of the completely muddled mess we got. Instead of the rich, deep characters we know and love from the comics, we got caricatures of them with actors that range from (oddly enough) near perfect casting to “what the fuck did I just watch” casting.

When Ben Affleck was announced as the new Bruce Wayne/Batman a couple years back, approximately 99.5% of the internet laughed their collective asses off with almost everyone pointing to Daredevil as the prosecution’s Exhibit A as to why it was a bad idea, myself included. I am a big Ben Affleck fan, or at least a big fan “I figured out how to make amazing movies and be an amazing actor” Ben Affleck. His performance in Gone Girl and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and his performances in and direction of Argo and The Town are all flat out amazing.  But that’s post 2010 Ben Affleck and Daredevil is very much early 2000’s Ben Affleck and early 2000’s Ben Affleck is bad. Bad Affleck…. Bad-fleck…. Bad flick….

Maybe the world wasn’t as aware or cognizant of it back in 2003 but I am really surprised I don’t remember any outcry of white washing at the casting of lily-white Jennifer Garner as the Greek born-and-raised Elektra Natchios.  Garner is serviceable in the role and I can completely understand her casting as she was one of the hottest actors of the day as her ABC show Alias was in the middle of it’s run, but I have to believe that there was a better choice out there somewhere.  Although, something did strike me as I was watching the movie – Garner would have made for a great Karen Page.  With an overhauled story and a better script, I really believe that would have been some great casting (for the time).

Colin Farrell as Bullseye could have been amazing…. if he hadn’t been made into a weird Irish, 90’s hangover, goth bro.  I have no idea if those character decisions were made by Farrell or writer/director Mark Steven Johnson but it is painful to watch and the less I have to remember it, the better.

A few paragraphs up, I used the words “near perfect casting” regarding Daredevil. Yes, that was on purpose. No, I did not pour a new scotch (although the thought did cross my mind). No, I said that and I meant it.  There are two, maybe three roles in this movie that are really well done (for what screen time and development they get) and really well cast.  Those roles are the aforementioned Jon Favreau as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, and I will go ahead and list Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich. For my money, Jon Favreau is a natural comedian and automatically elevates any movie he is in and Daredevil is no different.  He has the best lines in the movie, by a wide margin, and he play the comic relief so perfectly.  In my review for The Dark Tower last week, I mentioned that it rarely bothers me when the race of a character is changed and rings absolutely true for Michael Clarke Duncan (RIP brother) as the Kingpin. Duncan has the physicality, the voice, and the chops to pull of the Kingpin without breaking a sweat. In my opinon, it’s probably one of the more underrated castings in all comic book movies.  Pantoliano is solid as Ben Urich but he unfortunately has so very little to do that his role could easily be cut out without affecting the overall movie.

Well guys and gals, those are my thoughts on 2003’s Daredevil. I watched it so you don’t have to.  You’re welcome…….

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