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IN SHORT: fanboys only [Rated PG-13 for action violence.]
Comic book fanboys are a real interesting breed. Those familiar with Frank Miller's creation, Elektra, as first rendered in print and on screen as part of the supporting cast of Marvel Comics' Daredevil, will pay their ten bucks and plant for Elektra knowing exactly how it should be. If they are disappointed, the gripes aired in internet chat rooms will be much more vicious than anything this aging fanboy, meaning yours Cranky, could write. That being revealed, we do not compare to Source Material and didn't crack open any of the three volumes of collected Miller Daredevil stories that you can buy in paperback form from Marvel.
Nor are we going to compare to the Daredevil movie because this film successful manages to separate itself from that universe -- which means (for the most part) you don't have to see Daredevil to understand anything about Elektra. No, we're not going to spill whether or not Ben Affleck makes a cameo appearance as Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Those who frequent the rumor boards don't believe us when we tell any truth that reflects other than what they want to believe, and we never spill what happens in the Third Act which is where the rumored appearance is, uh, rumored to be. Or not. Finally, fanboys who complained that Elektra's costume was "wrong" in Daredevil will be pleased to find that that "error" has been corrected.
All the little tweaks aside, all that really counts to the majority of ticket buyers is the story and, since this is an action movie, the action.
So now we present the continuing adventures of the allegedly deceased freelance assassin Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). The film begins with an example of her "art" which pretty much proves that the dead have risen, introduces her "booking agent" McCabe (Colin Cunningham) and includes a brilliantly scripted two sentence summation of anything you would have to know from Daredevil. It is a couple of minutes in before a flashback fixes the loose end from Daredevil and explains this superhero's resurrection, brought about courtesy the healing hands of her mentor, Stick (Terrence Stamp). Stick is blind, but that doesn't get in the way of any of his fighting abilities. In fact, the fight scenes choreographed by Mike Gunther and assistant Marcus Young, are among the high points of Rob Bowman's flick. So, thumbs up for the action. Let's move on.
The core of the story involves Elektra's new assignment, taken despite McCabe's insistence that his client needs some time off. The targets: Mark Millar (Goran Visjnic) and his 13 year old daughter Abby (Kristen Prout), who live on a remote island that would be just perfect for a vacation. Elektra's interaction with the targets before the attempted killing, actually before she knows that they are her targets, isn't written strongly enough to make us believe her decision not to finish the job. Instead, she defends the pair against a pair of ninja assassins sent by a Japanese mob cartel called The Hand -- again, the same group that hired Elektra to kill the Millars in the first place and also, it is implied, a cartel dead set on capturing a top notch killing artist like Elektra. Elektra tracks down her mentor to beg help but it is too late. A new killing squad sent by the hand: Stone (Bob Sapp), Typhoid (Natassia Malthe), Tattoo (Chris Ackerman) and their squad leader, Kirigi (Will Yun Lee). All but the latter have powers that are best left as visual surprises, though even non-fanboys can herald a pretty good guess as to what they are. Topping 'em all are those fight scenes mentioned above.
There are some awkward flashbacks inserted to suggest that an awful event in her past influences her decisions to kill (or not), but those flashbacks are more connected to story that culminates in the Third Act and thus off limits to describe here. Of more importance to us is the unfortunate script which has characters appearing or disappearing willy nilly, and bits of story doing the same. In trying to build a story that whips around the world, the writers have forgotten that between point A and Z are a whole string of things that have to be in the same order. Flashbacks that only give half a story, or rely on a viewers knowledge of a previous story, in any form, belly flop on this site.
Which is too bad, 'cuz Daredevil was the first comic we collected, decades ago. We're not disappointed because the film isn't like the book because, as we've written elsewhere, that would bore us silly. Elektra is just badly written. It's a confusing mess and that's that.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Elektra, he would have paid . . .
Great action. A real mess of a story. Rent.
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