Daredevil – The Director’s Cut (2003)
Daredevil – The Director’s Cut Review
Director – Mark Steven Johnson
Cast – Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau
A blind Ben Affleck fights crime in 2003’s Daredevil. He is a lawyer, which puts him in an interesting ethical position. By day he defends the down-trodden and upholds justice, and then by night he kicks ass of those he believes are criminals. He isn’t awfully scrupulous about who he beats up, either… in one scene he beats up a whole biker bar to get to someone. He’s a very violent superhero, apparently not as particular about his rules as Batman, for example. Baddies end up kicked off steeples, faces smashed in, and thrown under trains. Hardly in the best tradition of the bar, surely.
Daredevil, or Matt Murdock as he is known at the bench, received his powers as a young boy, after an accident at the dock yards where he is blinded by an unnamed toxic substance. (Smack a “Hazardous Material” sticker on a barrel and it’s amazing what you can get away with.) He finds he is able to “see” with a primitive radar, and finds his other senses greatly enhanced. Soon after, his father, a boxer who is past his prime, is killed after refusing to throw a fight. This spurs Matt on to fight injustice no matter the cost.
On a side note, why the hell does every superhero have to be an orphan? Superman, Spider-man, Batman, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Wolverine… Those whose parents weren’t prematurely killed still have father issues, Iron Man and Thor for example. It seems an oddly specific affliction to give a group of characters. But, I digress.
Daredevil’s life becomes purely dedicated to rooting out evil-doers. His house is full of crime fighting gear and multiple replacement costumes. I sometimes wonder where these people find their tailors. I love it when movies go into a costume origin, ala Spider-man or Batman. Even the Fantastic Four. We don’t get that here, but I suppose we wouldn’t want too much of that. The origin story is (perhaps wisely) whizzed through, gotten out-of-the-way as neatly as possible. That is done well here, and the way Murdocks radar sense is shown is quite interesting. we get right into the story.
The story itself is fairly generic, and I won’t bother repeating it here, especially as its lack of flair really brings the movie down. There are some mildly interesting characters, from Bullseye, an anarchic Irishman with astonishing aim, to Jon Favreau’s character, Matt’s best friend. Some are less interesting, like Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, a rich girl who doesn’t like how her father tries to control her. (More daddy issues…)
The movie works best when delving into the murky side of New York society. There is a great morally ambiguous reporter (played by Joe Pantoliano), who is trying to find out Daredevils identity. The man who “owns the town”, Kingpin, is played excellently by Michael Clarke Duncan, who knows just the right amount of showmanship to bring to the role. There is another great little character, played by Coolio, whom Murdock defends in a murder trial. There is a flashy griminess to the movie that works very well with the source material.
Never in a superhero movie has it been more evident that the superheroes we all know and love are vigilantes, through and through. This is due to the juxtaposition of Murdock’s legal life and his other, extra curricular activities. Does he truly believe that all men deserve a trial by twelve men, good and true? I don’t think he does, and by extension he brings into light that most other superheroes mustn’t either. I suppose the Nolan Batman does bring his catches to the cops… but in general, superheroes seem to be our right-wing feelings brought to the fore. “If we know he’s guilty, just bring him to justice your own way!” The dangerous thing is how right it feels…
Daredevil: The Director’s Cut is an improvement over the original, and has a grimy likability. It’s story falters dramatically, however; it just doesn’t have anything that interesting. The actors bring their best to their parts, but can’t stop some cheesiness that finds its way in. Not an awful movie, but not great. A decent little middle-of-the-roader. I would recommend it to superhero fans, though!
NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Up next is X-Men: The Last Stand.
“Daredevil” on other websites:
IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia
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