Cast & Crew
Michael Clarke Duncan
Franklin 'Foggy' Nelson
Produced by Avi
Arad, Kathleen M. Courtney, Becki Cross Trujillo, Kevin
Feige, Gary Foster, Stan Lee, Arnon Milchan and Bernie Williams;
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson; Screenwritten
by Brian Helgeland and Mark Steven Johnson; based
on the comic book by Bill Everett, Stan Lee and Frank
Rated PG-13 for action/violence and some sensuality;
Running Time - 103 Minutes
Domestic Release Dates:
February 14, 2003
by DAVID KEYES
audience indeed knows more about the super-hero essence
than most filmmakers do, then it will be interesting to
see if anyone can explain the mysterious physical chutzpah
behind Daredevil, a crime fighter who leaps great distances
between buildings, drops hundreds of feet from the air without
the use of specific assets or interference to break his
falls, and never seems to injure himself as a result. We
can get away with most masked protagonists performing these
types of stunts because the evidence is always there to
enforce it; Superman's superhuman abilities allow him to
fly, for instance, while Batman and Spider-Man suspend gravitational
limits because they have nifty gadgets that allow them to.
And the mutants of "X-Men" can fly too because,
well, they're mutants. With this particular comic book hero,
however, no specific explanation or hint of reasoning is
applied to the concept, other than the assumption being
incredibly acrobatic is achieved simply by someone going
blind after an accident with spilled chemicals.
movie is based on the Marvel Comic of the same name, a relatively
low-key effort in print that is being pushed into theaters
with the same obscure treatment as its source material.
Even I, an avid comic book reader of the past, can admit
to having never read a single page about Matt Murdock or
his adventures as a blind street vigilante. But as is the
case even with the most unfamiliar comic heroes who have
found their way onto the screen, being an expert on past
history is an irrelevant task. This guy may not be as interesting
as a caped crusader or as engaging as the mutants from the
school of Charles Xavier, but Murdock, a.k.a, the Daredevil,
does more than meet the requirements in his dark, moody
but generally exciting screen debut.
movie opens with an obligatory carbon setup: in the heart
of the town of Hell's Kitchen, a young Matt Murdock is rendered
blind when his eyes accidentally come into contact with
dangerous chemicals. In the process, his other senses experience
heightened sensitivity, enough so that even when he is stranded
in unfamiliar environments, he can pick up enough clues
through sound, smell and touch to actually visualize his
environment (the movie even shows us how he does it). Blindness
has also made him more quick-witted with his peers, too,
and when a slew of bullies corner him in an alley, knowing
full well that he can't see them, the kid is able to swiftly
turn the tables and come out the victor against their clenched
fists. Alas, the boy's sense of coping is further damaged
when he discovers his father, an aging boxer, murdered in
a back alley by a group of unknown thugs. Thus, Matt devotes
his oncoming life not only to avenging the death of his
parent, but to protecting the innocent people who could
potentially suffer the same kind of tragedies that he did.
The name "Daredevil" becomes his iconic label
in the process.
Affleck plays the older Murdock, a muscular, smart but charming
guy who is a lawyer by day and a merciless vigilante by
night. Growing older has done nothing to calm his always-alert
senses, we gather, and when he removes his mask following
a busy night in which he disposes of an acquitted rapist,
he crawls into a dark vault filled with calm water and drifts
off into slumber (hey, if you had his keen senses, would
you be able to sleep just anywhere in a busy city?). The
next day, at the local coffee shop, he runs into Elektra
Natchios (Jennifer Garner of TV's "Alias"), a
fetching female who attracts the curious blind guy merely
by her powerful scent. She responds nicely to his advances,
but when he asks for her name, she merely brushes the request
off and walks out, forcing him to follow her to a nearby
playground where they abruptly engage in a feisty round
of hand-to-cane combat until she gives in to his bold advances.
Their next meeting is predictably less violent, but the
seed of passion is already planted in both their personas,
and Affleck and Garner do their best to deliver on that
are bigger obstacles, though, that prevent things from going
very far. Elektra's father, a rich and powerful businessman
with veiled links to the town's infamous crime kingpin (Michael
Clarke Duncan), is receiving veiled death threats because
of his urge to leave behind his unlawful ways. Matt's, meanwhile,
is split between a personal identity dilemma ("I'm
not the villain!" he insists despite his grizzly methods
of justice) and the oncoming ambush of Hell's Kitchen's
major crime boss, who has hired Bullseye (Colin Farrell),
an Irish assassin, to take out both the Daredevil and Mr.
Natchios upon his impending arrival. The movie plays with
a lot of buildup to these confrontations, although they're
not nearly as spectacular or rewarding as early isolated
scenes that feature the three in question as stand-alone
ultimately impressive about "Daredevil," perhaps
more than its skillful delivery as both a character study
and a super-hero narrative, is the convincing way in which
the action plays out. In the age of digital illusion, the
hardest task has become making things look more authentic
than they really are, but here is a movie that captures
the convincing edge necessary to defend all its visual versatility.
None of the sky-bound characters here are completely resistant
to gravity, either, unlike last year's "Spider-Man"
where heroes and villains maneuvered their way through city
streets and skyscrapers as if there were no such thing.
The characters challenge the laws but are still susceptible
to certain limits of reality, and that gives the movie considerably
more depth than you would normally expect. There is nothing
more boring, after all, than a film that refuses to give
its protagonists any sense of vulnerability.
we need the explanation behind Daredevil's cunning physical
antics, though? Kind of. As you watch the movie unfold,
you can't help but wonder how much more convincing it all
would have been had we begun to understand the source of
his internal energy. What, furthermore, is the source (or
even the purpose) of Elektra's? We're told that she spent
years training in the fine arts of battle, but all we have
to show for it is one preparation scene and one brief confrontation
between she and the masked Daredevil. The Bullseye character
is utilized only briefly here, too, but that's okay because
this isn't one of those super-hero flicks that gets its
punch merely from the flair of an antagonist. No, "Daredevil"
isn't a spectacular achievement by any means, but in lots
of ways it finds the right notes and never fails to pique
the interest of its viewers.
© 2003, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.