Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is an assassin for hire - the best in the business. She even has an agent, McCabe (Colin Cunningham). Trained and mentored by the blind martial arts guru Stick (Terence Stamp), she’s thrown out of Stick’s squad of trainees to fend for herself – Stick tells her she won’t be taught – but has to learn. The murder of her mother haunts her from her childhood, and she lives a lone and desperate life. When she gets a contract to kill Abby (Kirsten Prout), a feisty 13 year-old in whom Elektra sees so much of herself, and Abby's father, Mark (Goran Visnjic), her instincts kick in. In her desperate struggle to save them, Elektra finds something she did not even know she was looking for: redemption. But she also finds out why the evil and powerful band known as The Hand, led by Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) are after Abby.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Hand is a band of evil guys, almost all Asian, and the key team comprises a man called Rock who is big and solid as a rock; a man called Tattoo (Chris Ackerman) whose bodily animal tattoos morph into their live versions on demand; a woman called Typhoid (Natassia Malthe) whose touch kills plants and gives humans instant disease. Any Hand gang member who is killed evaporates in a pyrotechnic blaze. So this is what Elektra is up against, and we haven’t got to Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) who can move floating sheets around a room like you wouldn’t believe. Excuse the sarcasm here, you’ll have to see the film to get this reference, triggered by part of the final showdown between Elektra and Kirigi, in which they are fighting in Elektra’s abandoned ancestral home, where all the furniture has been covered with white sheets. This is where it all began, with her mother’s murder – by Kirigi, who reveals it to her with sadistic pleasure as he tries to kill her between the sheets (as it were).
If these elements don’t strike you as derivative or corny, you should stop reading and get along to Elektra. In fact, you should get along to Elektra anyway, because the film is a minefield for students of film, in both negative and positive values. The positives include casting Terence Stamp (against his better judgement, I gather), Goran Visnjic as Mark and the terrific young Kirsten Prout as Abby, the cause of all the fuss - but not Jennifer Garner, whose pouting, catwalk model turn is too contrived to cut ice with cynics like me.
The negatives include how not to edit fight scenes, how not to write trite dialogue (and too much of it) and how not to try and overstep the comic-derived action genre’s strengths with attempts at character-driven existentialism unless you can access gifted writer/s.
Marvel Comics has a warehouse full of comic fantasies, and some have worked on screen, notably the recent Spider-Man films. Elektra, who has a troubled past like several of these superheros, is a challenge for filmmakers, it seems, as was the Hulk. While I respect their efforts, I can’t recommend the result.
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CAST: Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp, Will Yun Lee, Goran VisnjicCary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Mark Steven Johnson
DIRECTOR: Rob Bowman
SCRIPT: Raven Metzner, Zak Penn, Stu Zicherman, Frank Miller
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Roe
EDITOR: Kevin Stitt
MUSIC: Christoph Beck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Graeme Murray
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 13, 2005