After the release of 2003’s Daredevil, critics and fans had rather mixed to negative reception on the film. And let’s face it: nobody really wanted a second Daredevil movie helmed by Ben Affleck. So what do the executives at 20th Century Fox do? Why make a spin-off film of course! And starring none other than Jennifer Garner’s Elektra! Oh but wait, her character died in Daredevil. But she did come back from death in the comics, so here we are.
Having been brought back to life thanks to her sensei Stick (played by Terrence Stamp), Elektra Natchios (played by Jennifer Garner) is now an assassin for hire. Despite making a pretty decent living from killing people, she still struggles to come to terms with her mother’s death. One day, she is contracted to kill a father and daughter, Mark and Abby Miller. As she’s about to do so, she decides not to for some reason. We later find out that another group, The Hand, is also sent to kill the Millers. Elektra decides to protect them from The Hand all while coming to terms with her mother’s death and finding her own place in the world.
I’m just going to start this review swinging: this movie is an absolute slog to sit through. There is nothing that goes on in this movie that really got my attention. I guess the forest setting is a departure from the usual city setting seen in superhero movies, but there is nothing else that feels original or even different in this movie. The perfect way I’d describe Elektra is a movie that has nothing going on in it. Elektra herself is a rather bland character that the audience is forced to follow, and the story with her coming to terms with her mother’s death makes absolutely no sense. We see visions that she has where it looks like a demon with the animation of The Roadrunner from Wile E Coyote kills her mother, which later evolves into a ninja killing her. What the fuck? I’m sorry, how do you confuse a ninja for a demon? Also, Elektra has visions where her younger self is talking to her current self. How does that even work? I don’t know, I don’t even think the movie knows. And does she grow as a character after coming to terms with her mother’s death? Nope, she’s still the same character from the beginning of the film. Want a good movie where the main character grows and changes over the course of the film while on a journey of overcoming grief and self-acceptance? Go watch Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle.
But hey, maybe the action scenes are cool, right? Wrong. They teeter on being completely nonsensical and being utterly hilarious. For example, one of The Hand members is immune to bullets and knives. So what does our heroine do to kill him? Drop a tree on him. While also running along it! Because…that’ll make it fall faster? Another moment is near the end when she kills Typhoid Mary. How does she do this? By throwing her Sai thirty feet through a hedge maze which finally stabs her in the face. Come on, you have to admit that’s cartoonish! And then there’s this guy with tattoos over his body whose name is…Tattoo, whose power is to control the animal tattoos on his body. And when they do come to life, the CG is so bad it looks like something that could’ve belonged in 1998’s Spawn.
Now, I’m not a comic purist, where everything that happens in the movies has to have happened in the comics, but almost no characters from this movie appeared in the comics. While original characters have been added in movies that further the plot, such as Ray Nadeem in Season 3 of Netflix’s Daredevil, here, every member of The Hand is defined by their power or choice of weapon. The only exception is Typhoid Mary, who was a villain who faced off against both Daredevil and Spider-Man as well as being Kingpin’s second wife. What does she do here? Make out with Elektra (I’m not lying) and die. Yep. and besides Elektra and Stick, literally none of the protagonists are from the comics. Meanwhile, both Abby and her dad are surprisingly even blander than Elektra herself and you really don’t feel connected to either of them.
Elektra made back only $57 million on a budget of $43-65 million, making it a huge financial failure and thus ending the Daredevil cinematic universe. Honestly, good riddance. Not only was this movie a borefest, but I had trouble remembering it even after I had just finished watching it. Even though Daredevil was bad, I at least still remembered how bad it is! This was a time when superhero movies were just starting to show their quality with films such as Batman Begins and the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. However, Elektra proved that they still had a long way to go before they could be considered anywhere near mainstream and highly bankable.