Daredevil (2003)


Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:

Warning, minor plot points revealed!

In the coming months you will be seeing a inordinate number of reviews for superhero movies posted to my website.  Why?  Because I love superhero movies!  I can't get enough of them!  I am thrilled to death that the special effects today are now able to bring to life all of the comic book heroes of the past.  I don't think I've ever missed a big screen version of a superhero movie and I don't intend to ever miss one in the future.  In fact, I'm kind of a superhero movie watchin' superhero!

Daredevil.  Who the heck is Daredevil?  Except for the fact that I had read that this movie was in production about a year ago, I had never even heard of Daredevil before.  But that doesn't matter.  Now I know Daredevil and I can add him to my ever-growing list of favorite superheroes!  

As a child, Matt Murdock was blinded by an accidental chemical spill while his father was being murdered by gangsters.  As an adult Matt Murdock is an attorney who represents only innocent clients by day and avenges the victimized by night as the vigilante Daredevil.  Because of the accidental blinding, his other 4 senses have become hyper-aware and he is able to fight for the people of Hell's Kitchen.  His only real superpower is an ability to "see" by way of a radar type sense that is activated by the sounds around him.  He is also fearless so he can put himself into extremely dangerous situations without worry.  

My favorite thing about Daredevil is that, unlike most superheroes, he's a killer.  He doesn't leave the bad guys dangling from a web for the proper authorities to take care of.  He doesn't send them to the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane to think about their crimes.  Daredevil is a vigilante.  Like Spawn, he sends his bad guys straight to Hell where they belong and he doesn't hold back on any of the violence.  In fact, I heard that the film had to be cut about 4 times before it could secure the PG-13 rating that the producers wanted.  (Hopefully the uncut R rated version, if there is one,  will be released on DVD.)

All the actors in Daredevil do a fab job.  Ben Affleck, who I don't really like all that much as an actor, does OK as the haunted do-badder Matt Murdock.  Somebody else, like Colin Farrell for instance, would have probably been a better candidate since the character is supposed to be a bit darker than the smooth featured all-American-looking Affleck.  His soft voice doesn't have the menace that is necessary for the character either.  The super villain Kingpin is wonderfully played by the huge actor Michael Clarke Duncan.  He is excellent in the role and plays it very straight.  He's not an over-the-top bad guy and that makes him more down to earth evil.  Colin Farrell on the other hand is completely over-the-top as the evil henchman Bullseye.  A contract killer with perfect aim and the ability to make anything into a lethal projectile.  Jennifer Garner of TV's Alias, plays Murdock's love interest Elektra.  Swinger's Jon Favreau  is Murdock's law partner Franklin "Foggy" Nelson.  And Joe Pantoliano from TV's The Sopranos and Cypher in The Matrix has a small role as the reporter hot on the trail of Daredevil's exploits.

The special effects are great and the combination of the Batman type city, the Spiderman-like gymnastics and The Matrix-type kung foo are excellent.  Except for the lack of a CGI character, Daredevil has taken advantage of all the superhero special effects presently available and used them in a very minimalist way.  The action is tight and the movie moves along at a very rapid pace.  

Daredevil is a great superhero movie.  I can't say it's better than I expected because I had no idea what to expect but I was definitely not disappointed.  I still don't really like Ben Affleck, but as long as he's masked in red leather, and killing the bad guys of Hell's Kitchen, I'll always be there to watch.