Rob Bowman | 93 mins | TV (HD) | 12 / PG-13
I think that — along with SFX magazine — I may be the only person in the world who quite liked the Daredevil movie (which reminds me that I still need to see the (supposedly better) director’s cut). This sequel/spin-off received even poorer reviews than its progenitor however, which means even I have spent the last five years (and 25 days, to be precise) not bothering to watch it. But when something’s available for free on TV, and in HD at that… well, it’d be rude to refuse. Though a little bit of me wishes I had.
So it goes without saying that most of Elektra’s reviews were right. The plot starts out as sub-Leon assassin nonsense, before turning into sub-X-Men superhero nonsense. The connection to Daredevil is actually minimal: vague flashbacks show Elektra being brought back to life, but the only signifier that this was the same death she suffered in Daredevil is the costume she wears. Said outfit has changed here, as she reverts (occasionally) to a bright red get-up that’s slightly more reminiscent of the comics. “It builds the legend,” she semi-explains. What legend? And how can said legend be built if everyone who sees her in it is promptly killed?
But beyond such surface modifications, the film adopts a different tone entirely. Daredevil took place in an almost-real version of the Marvel universe — ‘real’ if you could accept Matt Murdock’s amazing gymnastic abilities and whatnot were possible, anyway. Elektra starts off in this kind of world, but quickly there’s talk of mystical powers that bring back the dead and let you see a teeny bit into the future, shortly before some baddies explode in puffs of green smoke and some more baddies are revealed to have full-on superpowers. Where did these come from? No idea. The film offers no explanation, be it mutant gene or radioactive exposure or plain old training, instead just assuming viewers will accept that this is the real world… oh, but some people have these cool powers.
The plot is slight, early on padded with childhood flashbacks that the climax pretends to solve but really offers no adequate explanation for. Again. Characters die and we’re meant to care, only no one bothered to make them characters rather than plot-furtherers. Others do things that are almost logical, but not quite. One senses a couple more rewrites might have improved some of this, but then it might’ve been ‘improved’ by adding more explanatory dialogue and no one wants that — there are already enough clanging infodumps here, never mind the generally low standard of the rest. The less said about the performances the better. Terence Stamp plays at being blind quite well. Moving on…
The action sequences aren’t up to much either, their brevity and over reliance on slow-mo belying a too-small budget. Or maybe the budget was fine and they just blew it all on CGI, because that at least looks quite good. If they’d managed to produce something worthy of our attention here there might at least be a reason to keep watching, but the weak action is just icing on the cake of the clichéd story and bland characters. Director Rob Bowman claims he made an R-rated film which he was forced to cut to PG-13, the implication being that neutered the whole thing. Maybe that’s where all the action went, though on the evidence of what’s left I’m not sure I believe him.
That said, IMDb informs me that Elektra also has a director’s cut, though at just a three-minute increase it sounds nothing like as fundamental as Daredevil’s. And I do still want to see the Daredevil director’s cut, even if I should find that, after seven years, I no longer like the film; but I think it’s safe to say that Elektra’s definitely won’t be worth the hassle.
Elektra featured on my list of The Five Worst Films I Saw in 2010, which can be read in full here.