Monday, September 24, 2012

Assassin Elektra Kills Her Own Movie Franchise: "Elektra" (2005)

Much was made of Hollywood whipping boy Ben Affleck getting his cameo cut from this film. After watching "Elektra," I now know that Affleck could not have made the film any worse.

Okay, forget everything you saw in "Daredevil," the film makers sure did. Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is a hardened, yet still adorable, assassin. She has the ability to bend the rules of time and physics, jumping from one place to another in the blink of an eye. This is very important because the film makers have her do it dozens of times in the course of the ninety-seven minute film.

Elektra sits in a rented house waiting for her agent McCabe (Colin Cunningham) to call with her next assignment. She meets neighbors Mark (Goran Visnjic) and his teen daughter Abby (Kristen Prout), but remains all guarded and secretive as she relives painful memories from her childhood. The targets, of course, turn out to be Mark and Abby, but Elektra develops emotions and decides to help them escape from some new assassins sent by a mysterious group called The Hand.

The Hand is led by the always underrated Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. His leadership is threatened by Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), who will get control of the group if he offs Elektra. He takes some middling super villains (with names like Typhoid, Tattoo, and Stone) with him and they go after our heroic trio.

Deep breath. The Hand and the forces of good have been fighting a war since the beginning of time to control...the planet? I am not sure, since this war is not being covered by "Dateline." Elektra's blind sensei Stick (an uncomfortable looking Terence Stamp) is called in to help, and all sorts of computer generated action ensues.

Damn, that's a lot of plot for a lousy movie. Just when I was lamenting the familiarity of the new round of superhero movies, "Elektra" comes along, plays with convention, and completely mucks it up.

The camera work is okay, although I thought the computer used to render the special effects should have got director credit. I have no idea why whenever a villain is killed, they poof into a cloud of green smoke, I imagine that is what the script looked like when first read. The cinematography is awful. I thought about checking my DVD/TV connection, the picture is too dark and looked like someone spread a layer of apple butter over the camera lens. The musical score was not noticed, and the editing was too hurried, since they were trying to cover the weak story with lots of action.

Jennifer Garner has charisma to burn, but it is not onscreen here. Visnjic basically plays his "ER" doctor bit, there is almost no back story to any supporting character in this film. Prout is cute, but is also given nothing more to do than pout. The group of super villains would have been cool if played by a cast along the lines of "Daredevil"'s Colin Farrell or Michael Clarke Duncan. Instead, they show up and do their little choreographed stuntwork before being poofed out.

Since this film made about a third the money of what "Daredevil" made (and that film is considered a flop!), I do not think "Elektra 2" is coming anytime soon. Rest easy, Ben Affleck, your little woman proved she could make a film as bad as you can. (*) out of five stars.