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January 2005

By Julian Roman


Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Rob Bowman
Producers: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Mark Steven Johnson
Screenwriter: Zak Penn
Cinematographer: Bill Roe
Composer: Christophe Beck
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yn Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp, Natassia Malthe, Bob Sapp, Chris Ackerman




You know you're watching a bad film when the title character has an ability to foresee the future and is constantly surprise attacked. Elektra, a spin-off from 2003's Daredevil, is an absolute disaster of a film. It's so poorly written and executed, I could spend an hour pointing out the gaping holes in the plot. The only saving grace is the combination of cartoonish CGI effects and martial arts. The action scenes have a modicum of creativity and that makes Elektra watchable. Otherwise, it would have been a total loss and stunk to the lofty levels of last year's Catwoman and Van Helsing.

The story begins with Elektra (Jennifer Garner) assassinating some no-name bad guy. Before he gets shredded by her trademark Sai daggers, the doomed villain recounts the legend of Elektra to get the audience up to speed. She was killed by Bullseye, but brought back to life by Stick (Terence Stamp), her former master with mystical healing powers. Elektra resumes her hit woman-for-hire career and is assigned a big money job. She's supposed to kill a man and his teenage daughter, but gets all touchy feely and decides to protect them instead. It seems that the girl is being hunted by The Hand, a secret order of warriors with demonic powers. Elektra has to defeat The Hand and figure out why they want the girl.

There's really nothing in common with the Elektra character from Daredevil. It's the same person, but the world they put her in is completely different. There's a supernatural theme to this film that is nowhere to be seen in Daredevil. One could argue that if Elektra had these powers, especially the gift of seeing the future, how could she have so easily been killed by Bullseye. That's a common sense question and common sense must be completely abandoned to watch Elektra. The filmmakers are going for a completely different story and make no effort to answer any questions posed from Daredevil.

While Elektra fails miserably as a film, Jennifer Garner is awesome as Elektra. Her physical presence on screen is stunning. She's incredibly athletic, but her flawless execution of the complex fight scenes are quite remarkable. Rarely do you see actresses put themselves front and center in action films. I've never seen her television show, Alias, but it apparently has a lot of hardcore action. Garner's got the guts to pull off the tough stuff and that deserves a lot of respect.

I'm actually hoping that Elektra does well enough at the box office to inspire a sequel. Female action heroes are few and far between. Elektra is a good character and Garner has proven she has the skill to play her well. A better script and more capable director would give Elektra fans the film that was sorely missed here.