‘Elektra’ is disappointing

[rating=2]Starring: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp
Director(s): Rob Bowman
Writer(s): Zak Penn, Stuart Zicherman, Raven Metzner

Jennifer Garner headlines as the comic book hero, 'Elektra'
Jennifer Garner headlines as the comic book hero, ‘Elektra’

As I sat down to watch Elektra, I was half hoping that I’d like it and wonder why everyone had been so hard on it. That all the naysayers were just plain wrong.

Sadly, they weren’t. Not completely.

Elektra started off interesting, but soon slowed and eventually derailed. The story doesn’t hold together all that well, and ultimately proves far bigger than the movie could properly contain.

The film picks up a few years after the events of Daredevil, the Ben Affleck action flick from which Elektra was spun off. Elektra, who died in that dark superhero yarn, has been restored to life by an ancient, mystical Asian cult. After being kicked out because of anger problems, she sets about working as an assassin for hire.

Elektra is soon given a high priced assignment: Kill a single father and his teenage daughter. But when she has second thoughts about carrying out her mission, she finds herself dragged into an epic struggle of good versus evil, that will force her to come to terms with her own dark demons.

The first problem with Elektra is that the heavier mystical elements don’t come into the story until about half way through the film. As a result, its takes on a different tone, where the pseudo realism of the beginning gets turned on its head.

The second comes through the story itself. Basically the teenager is a powerful warrior that an evil organization known as The Hand wants to control. So the leader of The Hand sends out his ruthless son, and the son’s band of deadly assassins, to capture the girl. Ultimately, Elektra saves the girl, but this victory is somewhat hollow and a little confusing. Sure, she defeats the son and his gang, but why wouldn’t The Hand still want the girl?

Plus, the biggest weakness of the script is that Elektra’s resurrection is only given a cursory explanation. I mean, most audiences who are not familiar with the comic book character would only know her from Daredevil, yet her miraculous return is dealt with off screen with only a brief, “Oh yeah, she was brought back to life.”

Elektra invariably will leave you unsatisfied. Jennifer Garner looks quite sexy in the red outfit, and Rob Bowman is visually a terrific director, but the story really needed to be much more focused on the character and her backstory and not the elaborate “good vs. evil” concept, which is actually left unresolved (perhaps with the thought that there would be sequels).

The DVD itself is pretty bare. I think the best highlight is the deleted scene with the Ben Affleck cameo as Matt Murdock (a.k.a., Daredevil). However I can understand why they didn’t include it in the finished film. It really had no bearing on the story of Elektra. There are a few behind the scenes features. A collection of “Inside the Editing Room” featurettes are good, but seem to have been made to air in between some television program. It’s kind of interesting, because some of the scenes they show seem different than how they end up in the movie.

I guess the best word to use for Elektra is… disappointing. It isn’t the worst film adaptation of a comic book character. I think that title easily belongs to either the mid-1990’s live action Fantastic Four movie, or 1991’s horrid Captain America. Still, it’s fun to watch if only to enjoy Garner and Bowman’s fantastic visuals.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 1 hr., 37 mins.

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