He is known as the Man Without Fear – nicknamed Daredevil, pursuing justice when the courts cannot. During the day, he is good hearted Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck). Blind since a childhood accident, his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. He falls for beautiful Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), whose businessman father is trying to get out of a criminal syndicate headed by New York’s crime Kingpin, Wilson Fisk (Michael Clark Duncan). Fisk’s deadly hired killer, Bullseye (Colin Farrell) is sent to kill Natchios and anyone else in Kingpin’s way – including Elektra and Daredevil. Meanwhile, New York Post reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano) is about to unmask Daredevil . . .
Review by Louise Keller:
In the vein of X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman, Daredevil brings to the screen a true comic-book hero, with its larger-than-life villains, slightly twee dialogue and ominous dark side reflected by its confronting violence. A flawed hero defiantly seeking to put some light (and sight) into the ‘Justice is Blind’ catch phrase, Daredevil’s super sensory attributes give him that split second advantage to feel what is happening before it actually takes place. I especially like the dark edge to the film’s tone that rings true to that of a Marvel comic character, but may disturb some of the younger audience. Director Mark Steven Johnson has created a film that feels as though it has jumped straight off the comic-book pages. The super-hero genre relies on a super villain, and we are not disappointed. Colin Farrell’s marvellous deadly villain Bullseye steals all his scenes, as he hits his target with deadly accuracy every time – well, almost – be it darts or any other weapons even those as seemingly innocuous as paperclips or pencils. With a Mad Max-like glint in his eye, Farrell looks dastardly devilish like a man possessed, with his shaved head, goatee beard, multi-ringed lobes and tattooed circular dartboard forehead. (In fact, I couldn’t help but think he looks rather like an evil version of Andre Agassi – apologies to the tennis champ!) Also larger than life (in every sense of the word) is Michael Clarke Duncan’s massive Kingpin, whose imposing muscular frame intimidates every inch of the screen. As for our hero, Daredevil himself, Ben Affleck admits to being a great fan of the character, and fits the bill admirably, with his classically handsome features and tall, fit frame (well beefed up for the role). The scenes between Affleck and Jon Favreau, Matt Murdock’s law partner Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson, provide genial humour, with their good natured banter, like the scene when Foggy slips slurps of hot English mustard into Matt’s coffee. (The moral of this reads something like – a blind man is always looking). The jiving and even the blind-man jokes are light and flippant, while the unique courtship between Matt and Elektra (Jennifer Garner, striking) is memorable, as they get-to-know each other in a fun sequence which includes martial arts moves and a balancing act on a children’s playground seesaw. I like the imaginative use of visual effects to simulate Daredevil’s acute sensory awareness, while the spectacular climax set in the church and featuring the imposing organ pipes is effectively executed. It may not have the heart of Superman, the charm of Spider-Man or the thrills of X-Men, but Daredevil is an engaging B movie in the tradition of good Saturday afternoon entertainment.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hollywood is on a million frequent flyer points by now with its flights of fancy from comic book heroes to the screen. Now, after all the – Men (Bat, Super and Spider) comes the Devil; Daredevil or DD as his flaming signature puts it. Once again we’re in Marvel Comics territory, which extends from one end of New York to the other. Superheroes don’t much care for tinpot towns or foreign cities. But Daredevil does differ from the Men; he gets it on with his girlfriend. And while he is physically blind, he is a little more morally analytical. Of course this is highly desirable in a figure who is just a moral whisker away from the vigilante mentality which the film does not wish to encourage. There is a big fight scene which ends with an emphatic ‘no’ to revenge and a resounding, all American ‘yes’ to justice – for instance. Ben Affleck, who is as surprising a choice for the Matt Murdock/Darevdevil superhero as was his buddy Matt Damon for the muscle flashing spy in The Bourne Identity, gives just enough inner turmoil and outer smouldering to bring this otherwise fantasy character to life. A blind superhero? With martial arts licks and paranormal physical responses? But hey, stop right there: this is a comic book hero and I for one would have loved to have seen this as an animation. Just a thought… I do like Darevdevil, though, especially the brilliant look that is maintained: somewhere close to film noir, with some jazzed up flourishes and effective FX. The action scenes, while mostly fast and flashy, do not have the full satisfaction of being seen in wide shot, even for a few moments. The result is we lose context and location: who is where and how is the fight actually playing out. All we see for most of the scenes are the zip-edited close ups. I am not advocating greater veracity in screen violence; just that fight scenes need to be shot a bit like boxing. Some wide shots to give us perspective. The storyline is wrinkle free and the dramatic points are compelling, so the only question you have to ask yourself is – are you in the mood for a bit of armchair adventure with wish fulfillment elements? Have a happy hero.
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CAST: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau
PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Arnon Milchan
DIRECTOR: Mark Steven Johnson
SCRIPT: Brian Helgeland, Mark Steven Johnson (characters by Bill Everett)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ericson Core
EDITOR: Armen Minasian, Dennis Virkler
MUSIC: Graeme Revell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Barry Chusid
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 20, 2003