The 2003 Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner: probably the strongest sedative available without a prescription. While that can be said about the theatrical cut, those wanting something more potent should definitely check out the director’s cut like I did. I slept like a baby for three days after watching that thing. It’s puzzling that this movie isn’t regulated by the FDA. You might wonder how it’s possible that a movie starring Ben Affleck walking around in a red tight leather outfit accompanied by Jennifer Garner wearing a black tight leather outfit could be so coma-inducing, but somehow they managed to pull it off. Looking at it from a positive angle: it’s something!
The early 00s were an interesting time for comic book movies. Studios were finally getting the hang of it with movies based on Marvel properties like Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man. These were all big hits so the studios went out and made sure they obtained the rights of Marvel’s most well-known properties. Properties like The Hulk, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, The Punisher and Daredevil. Aside from all being based upon Marvel properties these movies have something else in common: they all suck.
When you look at the list of movies based upon Marvel Comics it’s actually kind of sad that almost all of the movies made between Blade (1998) and Iron Man (2008) fail on various levels. Only the first two installments of the Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man trilogies were both critical and financial successes. In all cases the third movie is generally considered the weakest, but at least those properties had good movies. Something that can’t be said for this review’s subject: Daredevil.
Daredevil is a bit like a Batman clone but without the unlimited financial resources. It revolves around Matt Murdock: lawyer by day, vigilante by night. Like the justice he’s trying to uphold Matt is blind. He lost his eyesight after a run-in with some chemicals, but these chemicals also enhanced all of his other senses. He now has a built-in sonar making him able to see things the same way bats see things. This actually gives him more justification to use the name Batman than Bruce Wayne has.
Now while this all may sound cool the character of Daredevil is as much developed as the average 10 year old girl. There are some flashbacks which are used as motivation for the adult character of Matt Murdock/Dardevil, but they skip over the whole becoming Daredevil thing. Something which the TV-show addressed perfectly in its first season. The character of Daredevil already exists when the movie opens, and the flashbacks only deal with his youth. Daredevil could have really used the Batman Begins approach, because now there are just so many questions. Who learned him how to fight? How is he able to move like a cat on fire escapes when all the chemicals did was enhance his senses? Who made his costume or that cane/grappling hook he uses? Aside from young Matt punching a boxing ball on a roof, nothing is ever explained about his fighting skills. You don’t become that good by just throwing punches at a harmless bag.
Those plausibility problems could have easily be forgiven if the movie was at least entertaining, but while it does have its moments it’s an overlong boring mess that uses a lot of cliches: like Matrix fight references. It was cool when Neo hand-signaled Morpheus to attack him, but a blind Ben Affleck on a playground signaling Jennifer Garner? Not so much. That scene felt as out of place as the Pet Shop Boys on a Death Metal festival. Which made me think that as the viewer: what have I done to deserve this?
The same way a broken clock is at least right twice a day, Daredevil does have some redeeming moments. Colin Farrell seems to be the only one who’s aware of the kind of movie he’s in and his Bulls-Eye is a villain that would have perfectly fit the 90s Batman movies: pretty over-the-top, but fun to see. Unlike all of the other characters who play it way too straight for a movie that revolves around a guy running around a in a tight leather outfit.
If you do want to watch this movie, make sure you have the theatrical cut because the director’s cut is way too long and filled with stuff it doesn’t need. Not that the theatrical version is a good movie, but hey: the less, the merrier. If you are going to torture yourself, why not make it as brief as possible?