Whether or not one likes Daredevil the movie probably has a lot to do with whether or not one likes Daredevil the comic book. To its credit (or, depending upon your perspective, its detriment), Daredevil is one of the most faithful comic-book adaptations to make it to the big screen. Yet in a world where the red-suited crimefighter is hardly a cultural icon in the same league as Batman and Spider-Man, that will mean very little to most filmgoers.
Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck), a young lawyer who spent his youth getting kicked around by life in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. He's blinded at an early age in an industrial accident, but when he recovers, he discovers that his remaining senses are superhumanly acute. When his father, a boxer, is killed by gangsters for refusing to throw a fight, Matt Murdock vows to dedicate his life to fighting for what's right. To that end, he becomes a lawyer by day and a masked vigilante by night--Daredevil, the Man Without Fear.
Using as its source material a classic (well, to comics fans, at least) Frank Miller story line, the film manages to find room for Daredevil's origin, his love affair with Elektra (Jennifer Garner) and his first meetings with his two arch-nemeses, Bullseye (Colin Farrell) and Kingpin (Michael Clark Duncan). Colin Farrell has fun with the psychotic Irish assassin Bullseye, who can use nearly any object as a deadly projectile (and who, as he proudly states, never misses). Michael Clark Duncan adds stone-cold menace to the Kingpin of Crime, the criminal mastermind at the nexus of New York's underworld. Yet Daredevil tries to cram too much into its relatively short running time, and ultimately it's the relationship between Matt Murdock and Elektra that suffers--Garner does all she can with the character, but she could have benefited from a bit more screen time. And the action sequences--particularly the faster-paced, Matrix-style wire fights--only succeed in making Affleck and Farrell look a bit awkward (unlike Garner, neither are natural martial artists). Still, Daredevil is a film by comic-book fans, for comic-book fans, packed with cameos and in-jokes sure to appeal to the die-hards. If that's you, then there's much to love here. --Robert Burrow