- Title: DareDevil
- Director: Mark Johnson
- Date: 2002
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Genre: Action, Fantasy
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Gardner, Colin Farrell, David Keith
- Format: Color, Widescreen
- DVD Format: R1, NTSC
"You killed the only two people I ever loved. Why?" -- DareDevil
"Business. That's all it ever is, is business." -- Kingpin
"That this city is born of heroes. That one man can make a difference." -- DareDevil
DareDevil is of course based on the Marvel character of the same name. I'm a DC gal, not Marvel so much, so I'm not that familiar with the source material, though I think I read a DareDevil graphic novel once. The movie though explains what you need to know about the character's background and shows us Matt Murdock's journey. Matt grew up in Hell's Kitchen, the son of a former boxer. His father, Jack, is washed-up now, but urges Matt to not fight but to get good grades so he can become a doctor or a lawyer.
Matt, at 10 or so, loses his sight in a bio hazard chemical spill. At 12, his father is killed, leaving him all alone in the world. However, he manages to become a lawyer anyway and specializes in helping innocent people -- ending-up doing a lot of pro-bono work, much to the chagrin of best friend and partner. Matt, also, at night is DareDevil, The Man Without Fear (formerly The Boy Without Fear), who uses his acute radar-like hearing and highly developed senses of touch and smell to fight crime and to seek vengeance.
I loved how this movie visualized the way Matt "sees" by sound. It was innovative, and just plain cool-looking. I also liked that the credits were in braille which transformed into letters, though I don't know if the braille was accurate. There are some other stunning visuals in the film as well - When Jack dies, it's in a dark alley, with a yellow caution sign at one end that says, "End". Some symbolism there, don't you think? And the brilliant red rose dropped on Jack's body is the only real color in the shot. Actually, the color palette of the entire film is very muted and dark -- emphasizing the darkness of the world Matt Murdock inhabits - both literally as a blind man and figuratively as a masked vigilante.
Anyway, as an adult with a dual identity, Matt is working in the justice system by day, fighting criminals by night. One day he meets Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) in a coffee shop, as Matt, and the two begin to date. However, when The Kingpin (of crime), hires the assassin, Bullseye, to kill Elektra's father, not only does he succeed, but it looks, even to Elektra, that DareDevil is the guilty one. Elektra practices the martial arts she's learned since she was five, dresses in black leather (of course) and sets out to find and kill DareDevil for killing her father. They fight, and Elektra stabs him in the shoulder. She pulls off his mask and is shocked to find it's Matt -- though she also now believes him -- she knows Bullseye is to blame, not Matt. Speaking of -- Bullseye shows up, fights Elektra, and kills her. Or does he? The end of the film makes one wonder. DareDevil goes after Bullseye, they fight, he kills Bullseye (by throwing him through a church Rose window no less), then he goes after Kingpin. But during his fight with Kingpin, he comes to a realization: he no longer wants vengeance after seeing what it did to Elektra. He leaves Kingpin to the police. DareDevil will be the city's protector, not a masked vigilante seeking random vengeance.
Again -- I'm more of a DC gal, but I will say that the Marvel Comics characters make for good movies. And, even though I see a lot of similarities between DareDevil and Batman, I still think DareDevil is a good movie - the visuals are very, very cool. I particularly liked the ghostly images and white-on-blue or sparkly dots (e.g. rain) used to visualize how Matt "sees" -- unusual, visually stunning, and something that makes you think. How unusual is that in a "comic book" fantasy movie? This also is a fairly dark film, really. Matt's life is grim, and Elektra's is about as bad.
Recommendation: See it - at least once.
Next Film: Date Night