Sunday, May 26, 2013

Movie Review: Elektra

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The actions sequences
Cons: Pretty much everything else
The Bottom Line:
Action scenes were great
But weak characters ruin
For this film lacked heart

Jennifer Garner is a Heartless Assassin in Elektra - a Movie with No Heart

Like many others, I suspect, what I know about comic book superheroes comes from the movies.  So I hadn't heard of the character Elektra until Jennifer Garner was cast as her in the 2003 DareDevil movie.  When this spin off focusing on her character was announced, I was excited, until the reviews started coming out.  While it dropped off my must see list, it stayed on my radar because of my love of Jennifer Garner.  I finally got around to seeing it.  The amount of time and money I spent not rushing out to see this turned out to be just about right.

After dying (in DareDevil), Elektra (Jennifer Garner) has been resurrected and trained in martial arts.  She can manipulate time, making her a deadly assassin.  But while Elektra travels from one assignment to another, she is haunted by nightmares from her past.

Nearing Christmas, she wants to take a few days off, not to spend them with family, but to try to fight off her personal demons.  But she gets a job that pays more than she can turn down, so she settles into a cabin in the middle of nowhere to await her target.

After befriending the neighbors, Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout), she finds out her mission is to kill them.  But her heart awakens instead, and she winds up protecting them from others also sent to kill them.  But there are even more powerful figures after the Millers.  Can Elektra keep them safe?

The problem with this movie is it truly has no heart.  No matter how absurd the story, we need to identify with someone to get into the story.  But that never happens here.  Elektra would be the obvious choice, but she is so cold, we just don't care.  Mark isn't developed enough, and Abby is annoyingly stupid.  The end result is that we spend 97 minutes watching stuff happen to people we don't care about.

I'm not going to put this completely at the feet of the acting, but it could have been better.  I do think the cast was trying, but they didn't have much to work with script wise.  Goran Visnic and Kirsten Prout certainly do what they can to make their characters come to life.  The rest are pretty much one note characters set up to be moved around by the plot.  A cardboard cutout would have done just as well as the cast.  Please note, I'm not saying the cast was bad.  I'm just saying they didn't have characters to portray.

Even Elektra falls into the one note trap.  I get the fact that she is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff.  But Jennifer Garner seems to be sleepwalking through the film.  I'm sure she was told to play her character emotionlessly, and as such she did a great job.  But it was a poor choice since we needed emotion to connect with her.

Then there's the director's weird lighting choice.  Almost every scene involves heavy use to shadow.  I'm sure it was supposed to set the mood and be symbolic, but all it did was annoy me to death.  I spent much of the film trying to see what all was happening.  If a character ever got more than half of themselves properly lit, it was unusual.  I mean, really, if you are going to put Jennifer Garner in a tight red leather outfit, let us see it.  Please!

If you are just looking for some action scenes, you will be rewarded.  There are some nice edge of your seat scenes scattered throughout the film.  One of the villains has some very cool tattoos, and I loved any time he was on screen.  Granted, most of the action wasn't realistic, but it was fun to watch.

Unfortunately, those action scenes weren't enough to save an overall dismal film.  If you absolutely must watch Elektra, wait until you can see it for free.

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