Ben Affleck falls from the top of a cathedral and says, “Ow,” after a loud thud. Michael Clarke Duncan sniffs a red rose and spouts a cheesy one-liner. After Colin Farrell kills a guy in a pub by throwing pin-darts into his neck, he snorts a few times and then contorts his eyes.
Everyone is having fun on screen in Daredevil, and the audience is expected to follow suit. Fortunately, no one in the production takes him or herself too seriously, thus allowing for that goal to be achieved.
Where Spider-Man took a more cartoonish, juvenile approach last summer, Daredevil takes a page out of Tim Burton’s book on Batman with darker tones and more adult themes.
But don’t let the seriousness fool you — this is all about having a good time.
Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a blind lawyer who loses court cases by day but serves justice by night as the vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen, a seedy hole in Manhattan where organized crime runs rampant. His father was a has-been palooka who was killed by a crime boss after failing to throw a prize fight. Through a stylish and humorous flashback, we learn about Matt’s relationship with his father, how he became blind and how he used his disability to become a superhero.
He is bad at relationships because he’s a loner — after all, who could find time to love when there’s crime fighting to be done? This leads him to not pursue Elektra (Jennifer Garner), a sweet-smelling beauty who knows kung-fu, and is the daughter of a billionaire who’s in cahoots with the Kingpin (Duncan). But Matt has to protect Elektra’s father, after the Kingpin puts a hit out on him by hiring Bullseye (Farrell).
Of course, our hero defies death and wins in the end. And just like in Spider-Man, we are treated to a melodramatic, yet supposedly life-inspiring, speech about how “there’s still work to be done” to protect his neighborhood from evil.
But the film is not about lost love or handicaps, or even fighting crime, but about sitting back and enjoying oneself.
In that regard, Affleck turns out to be the perfect choice for Daredevil, a hero who has to poke fun at himself because he’s blind yet runs around in a magenta leather getup. Garner doesn’t do much more than smile and look pretty as the anti-damsel in distress who serves no greater purpose than a stand-in as Daredevil’s love interest in this installment.
However, Farrell takes the cake as the outlandishly goofy baddie with an imprint on his forehead in the shape of, well, a bull’s-eye, as well as his willingness to speak in an exaggerated Irish tongue inter-spliced with hissing and even worse one-liners than Duncan is given. Throughout the film, Farrell is laughing so hard on the inside that it shows through his otherwise gruesome villain, who kills and then performs a giddy giggle and whispers, “Ha, bull’s-eye,” while pointing to the dent in his head.
The costumes are not as involved as in Spider-Man. Here, all the leather coats, pants and midriff-baring skin-tight tops you can shake a stick at make their appearance as Daredevil dares to be the biker-bar frequenter’s superhero film, as opposed to Spider-Man‘s appeal to pubescent geeks and Batman‘s market on S&M groupies.
When the film’s last frame fades into an upbeat credits reel, you sit back and get the sense that you’ve seen this before. But then, you realize that for the past hour and a half you laughed and were entertained by all the silliness that begs to surround the story of a blind lawyer superhero played by the perpetually self-deprecating Affleck.
While that doesn’t seem too different from a recluse millionaire with a fetish for bats or a high school nerd with spider senses, it doesn’t seem to matter.
And if that’s the case, you’ll probably be the first in line this summer when the story of a geneticist who turns green when he gets emotional is given the big-screen treatment.
Action, PG-13, Running time: 97 min.
Contact Will Albritton at firstname.lastname@example.org