Elektra (2005)

Rating: **
Release Date: 1/14/05
Director: Rob Bowman
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Kirsten Prout, Terence Stamp, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Natassia Malthe, cameo by Mark Houghton (?)

What a sad waste of potential. However, it's nice to see that Marvel saw the project through, after so many other female action movies failed to ever materialize. Unfortunately, the results aren't going to win over any new fans of the genre. Picking up where "Daredevil" (2003) left off, Elektra (cold as ice Jennifer Garner) is brought back from the dead by a blind martial arts master named Stick (Terence Stamp) and trained as a deadly assassin. She lives recklessly, constantly tormented by her inner demons and the memory of her dead mother. Her latest mission involves killing a seemingly nice man and his precocious teenage daughter Abbey (adorable Kirsten Prout), but there's something about the girl that makes her hesitate and not pull the trigger. Then all hell breaks loose, as wave after wave of increasingly silly assassins come after the three of them to finish the job.

I'm sorry, but I can't take any movie seriously that has a character named "Tattoo." Come on, can't we get a little more original than that? Having never read the "Elektra" comics, I have no idea how closely this follows Frank Miller's highly regarded work, but taken on its own, the movie is a jumbled mess of style over substance. Pretty, but dumb. Jennifer Garner does an adequate job of being a tortured soul, her permanent pout seething with anger and self loathing, but her delivery is too stiff to get much else from her character. She dons the classic red outfit which is just a tad ridiculous, and complements it with hideous blue eye shadow. Gack. Who thought that was a good idea? Kirsten Prout is utterly adorable, although much more so as a blonde. She beams with feisty youth and firey exuberance, and breathes the only element of life into the film. Both Cary Tagawa and Terence Stamp sleepwalk through the film with little to do, which is a bit of a shame. But the biggest shame of all is in the technical aspects of the film. The lighting is surprisingly awful and the film features some of the worst fight cinematography and editing I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. Utterly detestable. One could try to defend the fight scenes by saying that the characters fight so quickly and intensely that mere mortals can't perceive what they're doing, but I would argue that if you can't see what's going on, then what's the point in watching it at all? The cuts are so rapid and the action is so chaotic that they could be playing golf and drinking tea for all I know. It doesn't matter what they're doing, because the filmmaking obscures it all. It's even more sad that the actors are physically capable of some impressive stuntwork, but they're never allowed to shine due to poor craftsmanship. Why do Hollywood directors continue to do this? Have they not learned anything from the masters of kung fu cinema? Unless you're a big comic book fan or just have the hots for Ms. Garner, there's no reason to waste your time on this film.