A review of “Daredevil” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG-13 for language, violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

Action heroes need to have edge. Michael Keaton had it as Batman, George Clooney did not.  Tobey Maguire had it as Spiderman, Linda Carter as Wonder Woman did not.  Ben Affleck, possibly most edge-less actor of his generation, is sorely miscast as blind humanitarian / Marvel comic book hero Daredevil, a contemporary Robin Hood wrapped in blood-red leather.

Attorney Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a public defender by day and the Man Without Fear at night.  Blinded in a tragic childhood accident, Matt coped with his loss by virtue of a silent promise: Never Give Up.  Seeking to aid the downtrodden, Matt relies on his superhuman hearing and smell to stalk the dark streets of the New York City as a masked vigilante.

Sounds good on flimsy colored paper, but for a comic book adaptation to work onscreen there has to be decent scripting and A-list production values (to offset the cartoonish-ness of it all).  “Daredevil” is a mixed bag of both; cheesy dialogue combined with witty bon mots (mostly delivered by Murdock’s self-deprecating partner Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, played by Jon Favreau), and some nice-looking cityscapes fused with intensely bogus bluescreen.

“Daredevil” should be Affleck’s show, but it’s not.  Big Ben pales in comparison to his colorful co-stars Colin Farrell, as the malevolent Bullseye, and tricked-out gal pal Jennifer Garner as the ass-kicking Elektra Natchios.  Farrell has edge in spades, and is startlingly evil as a hired Irish assassin who throws knives, broken glass, darts, and even paper clips with deadly accuracy.  Garner brings a genuine humanity to her feminist love-interest role that spells showbiz future with a capital F.

Wooden criminal underground subplot and closer-than-close-cutting action sequences frustrate rather than enhance the viewing pleasure.  “Daredevil” should have been the goods - instead it’s an almost-but-not-quite failure.