Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: January 14, 2005 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
Jennifer Garner's demanding role on acclaimed TV series "Alias" as double agent Sydney Bristow has brought her a Golden Globe. The new season for "Alias" is poised to promote her latest big-screen venture, Elektra, this year's first action movie that is a forgettable comic-book martial-arts offshoot of Daredevil.
Under the direction of Rob Bowman (X Files, Reign of Fire) and a script co-written by Zak Penn (X2), a full-lipped Garner is less appealing than she was in the Ben Affleck film when she was left for dead by the maniacal Bullseye played by Colin Farrell. Her Elektra Natchios is in a more naturalistic environment this time around as the libidinous heroine recovers from her mortal wounds with a deep meditative streak and a dark side resulting from her violent past. She has become "a lethal synthesis of grace and power."
A rapid prologue cues one to Elektra's chronic nightmares from the sudden death of her mother and her ability to see (briefly) into the future (called Kimagure). The extreme cuts in editing and glossy production designs are geared towards the MTV fan, but Elektra is choppy when it comes to action, notably in the martial-arts department, and more talky than expected. Unfortunately, with six people in the producing ranks, including comic-book master Stan Lee and Daredevil director Mark Steven Johnson, there would appear to be more insight and choreography to enhance the character. But, the only substance here is Garner looking like the spokeswoman for Victoria's Secret.
The character's signature red from the comics comes to the viewer at the beginning (in a slick scene with an un-billed Jason Isaacs) and in the extended climax that becomes tedious because of excessive editing. Through her blind sensel in Stick, done with dry manipulation and riddles by the esteemed Terence Stamp, remembered as super villain General Zod in the first two Superman movies, this lissome assassin with find the purity with tragedy. Much of Elektra, filmed in Vancouver, concerns how she turns from killing a father ("ER"s Goran Visnjic) and his sullen daughter Abby, a decent turn for young Canadian actress Kristen Prout, to protecting them from the dark "ninjitsu" by the prowling syndicate known as The Hand.
Bowman consistently shows how Elektra goes through personal torment as when she comes up for breath after swimming to see her father and mother and learning of a "treasure" in the midst of her new neighbors. As in Daredevil, violence collides with a moral streak as the characters of Elektra and Abby share a bond of losing their mothers, and the vary fast woman wants Abby to be able to not become like her. But there's little ebullience and sense of humor aside from a couple of snappy one liners that could help push any emotional weight into what feels like fantasy go-girl stuff.
Special visual and make-up f/x come into play complements of the black magic of The Hand, including femme fatale Typhoid who can suck the life out of a victim and Tatoo who can command engraved animals to appear and leave his skin. Elektra will use her sais, a pair of three pronged daggers against master swordsman Kirigi (Will Un Lee of Die Another Day) and scenes in a forest and one in a lavish room with flying bed sheets call to mind striking cinema like House of Flying Daggers and Hero. But Garner is more pouty than exhilarating, purring more like an agile Halle Berry than a soulful, troubled woman who is trapped in a wispy cross between Batman and Kill Bill.