Based on the cult Marvel comic book series created by the legendary writer Frank Miller, Elektra stars Jennifer Garner as the cold-blooded female assign for hire, an eccentric loner cursed with a mystical power known as Kimagure which allows her see she partial glimpses of the future.
Since her demise in 2003’s feeble Daredevil – which was so poor it makes you wonder why this spin-off has been made in the first place – Elektra Natchios has returned from the dead aided by a group of supernatural assassins known as The Order Of The Hand. Her latest case takes her to a remote island where she is assigned to kill widower Mark Miller, played by ER‘s Goran Visnjic, and his 13-year-old daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout.)
Yet Elektra soon befriends and protects the Millers from The Hand and their evil leader Kirigi (Will Yun Lee.) With guidance from her blind mentor Stick played by the underused Terence Stamp, Elektra finds herself stuck in spiritual turmoil. And that’s pretty much it if you dispense all the pointless mystical mumbo-jumbo that the script gets knee-deep in.
Why exactly has this film been made? After the embarrassing failure that was Daredevil, surely the underground story of Elektra wasn’t what you would call guaranteed box-office gold. It is a completely lacklustre film on every level.
Jennifer Garner tries her hardest but does not manage to front this particular film convincingly. What little characterization there is of her character, which is basically random flashbacks to her youth, you fail to get to grips with who or what precisely Elektra is. That is probably fine if you’re a fan of the comic books (as presumably you already know her past) but it alienates the average viewer who is literally ignorant of Elektra’s mythology.
All we really know is that she has a strange power which causes her to have frightening premonitions, her dad was a bit of a bully toward her and her mother was murdered. It is rare for a mainstream Hollywood movie with a central female character to set its lead protagonist up as almost totally unlikable, cold and detached.
Kirigi’s lethal group of mystical baddies with such characters as Typhoid are entertaining but stupidly understated, as is Terence Stamp who looks completely bored throughout his small part. He was probably wondering why on earth he agreed to star in this film, surely his bank balance isn’t that low?
Having worked as producer/director on the X-Files, director Rob Bowman failed to bring any of the cult show’s suspense or dark ambience to the film, instead offering us bland and uninteresting tales of eastern mysticism that get very boring, very quickly.
Lots of questions can be asked: why is it that since The Matrix almost every Hollywood science-fiction/fantasy film has to have an annoyingly loud rock soundtrack? When it’s added to the action pieces, which in Elektra are ridiculously fast, it becomes very frustrating causing some confusion. And why do the Ninja’s blow up in green smoke when they are killed? And where exactly is the film set?
I hope the forthcoming Batman Begins redeems my faith in comic-book adaptations – they did shine for sometime with films such as the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises and 2004’s Hellboy. For the most part, Elektra is pitifully poor yet it’s not as bad as the diabolical Catwoman – that at least says something positive.