Canadian Reviews

Daredevil Review

Daredevil    (Review contains NO spoilers)

Genre:  Action, Drama, Superhero film
Director:  Mark Steven Johnson
Stars:  Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrel, Michael
              Clarke Duncan, Joe Pantoliano, Jon Favreau

What's It All About?
    The film adaption of the long-lasting and popular comic book series, the story follows Matt Murdock as a resident of Hell's Kitchen, NY and his rise into becoming the masked avenger, "Daredevil".  Matt was blinded as a child due to an accident involving biohazard radiation, however all his other senses were heightened to an extraordinary level.  He becomes and works as a lawyer as an adult, by day, but by night he prowls the city's grimy streets as the judge, jury, and even executioner of all criminals who cross his path.

What Did I Think About It?
    Frankly, I thought the film was excellent.  Perhaps not earth-shatteringly good but certainly one of the best superhero films ever and the only one to really touch on an emotional level since "The Crow".  Unless you go into the film with a completely negative mindset and wanting to complain about various aspects of the show from the outset - I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't really enjoy it.  
    I'll happily admit here that I pretty much hated "Spider-man" w/Tobey Maguire - I was completely disappointed and honestly, I don't "get" why so many people loved it or why it made upwards of 400 million.  To me, the "Spider-man" movie was filled with forced and corny dialogue, awkward action sequences, and terrible deviations from what was perfectly designed on the comic page.  Therefore, I actually went in to "Daredevil" with low expectations myself, however, was more than even completely satisfied.  The progression of story in "Daredevil" is excellent, the drama is honestly handled (and thankfully under-played just right), and the action delivers.
    However, I must admit that if you are an action-junkee you have to dump some of those hormones before you view the movie because "Daredevil" isn't an action powerhouse like "Blade II" and in my mind - the action, while quite good especially at certain given points, is notably outshined by the sum of the story's points and it's well-delivered dramatic scenes.  I read the comics to some degree and especially enjoyed the Frank Miller adaption so I was afraid that parts of the story would be detrimentally altered - however, minus a few almost certainly necessary changes to avoid an excessively long length or any newbie confusion, everything is faithfully put on film.  The tortured nature of Matt's prize-fighting father, the quirks of Matt's blindness, the dark atmosphere of the comic is all there.  It's all good too and because of these themes, the movie is always entertaining even during it's slowest moments.
    I think all actors played their parts extremely well too.  Partly because the right actors were chosen and partly because the director decided that the characters shouldn't be developed primarily through dialogue but rather mainly through brooding and poignant sequences.  Affleck played the dark hero without any trademark "Affleckisms" or goofiness that might haven't ruined Murdocks credibility.  Duncan played Kingpin successfully with what he's given.  Garner really brings an emotional edge to her sequences if for her beauty alone, but is equally graceful as an expert martial artist.  David Keith was such a perfect choice as Jack Murdock that I can't even believe it.  And finally, Bullseye, was made into one of the coolest villians of all-time by Colin Farrel.  What makes Bullseye especially good is what he's given to do in the movie - I swear everytime he would get ready to throw an object about halfway through the film, I cringed since at that point your acutely aware of just how brutal his accuracy is achieved.  The fact (as proven through action), that he clearly always hits his target, and the subsequent forceful/deadly result of the attack - made him almost honestly scary to me.  And it's just Colin Farrel in a leather jacket! --- but the script and it's actions make it all work oh so well.  As many aspects of the rest of the film do thanks to the same facts.  Solid direction, honest/believable acting and dialogue, with a story-line that comes together neatly and craftily in the end while also serving up several "surprises" throughout make this movie a total success in my mind.
    Now I'll mention what few negative aspects the naysayers might bring up.  First that the action sequences are often short and/or shot in the dark as to obsure what is sometimes happening.  Usually I would complain about such things myself but neither of these things bothered me as the story very practically allows the action to take a backseat and also simply for the fact that enough singularly neat things happen throughout the action scenes that they always sustain a bit of "cool" factor.  The other thing is that the movie's storyline expects us to believe that Matt just began training himself and became a talented acrobat through his own doing.  This is different in the comic as, instead, a certain "mysterious stranger" comes to Matt's aid after being blinded and trains him, with ulterior motives, to avenge his father's death.  This was yet another problem I could ignore because the story as a whole just made sense and since you realize after it's conclusion that the additional character/aspect added to the movie would have made it too long or with too many potential loose ends.  I can't think of anything else - really any other problems you have with the show I'd have to say exist only because you weren't open enough to the emotions or actions that were creatively recreated on the screen.  Like I said, you'd either have to have extremely high expectations or be in just a disgusting mood to walk out disappointed - In my mind, the movie as a whole was credible, cool, and just plain great.


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Added: February 21st 2003
Reviewer Aaron
Related Link: imdb
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