Daredevil: Director’s Cut
Daredevil: Director’s Cut 2003
I was quite surprised when I heard the news of Michael Clark Duncan’s passing, so I did the only thing I could really think of to do my small part to honor his memory: watch one of his movies. And while Daredevil is near the bottom of the recent comic book movie heap, derided by many fans and movie lovers alike, and the director’s cut is widely hailed as the much improved version, if often grudgingly, that was the movie that I decided to watch. Ben Affleck was an interesting choice for the role of Daredevil, and I thought he did a passable job. The rest of the cast was pretty impressive too, with some small controversy about the race swap of the Kingpin. Or at least I remember it being a point of contention with at least one of my friends, who is a big comic book fan. I had no problem with it personally, I couldn’t think of a single white guy with the sheer mass to pull off the role as well as being able to act. I think the biggest fault of the movie is that it didn’t really have a singular tone. In some places it was very darkly serious, in others it was cheery and hopefully romantic, and in others it was over the top campy. Personally, I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I could see the faults of a bad film peeking through, but I looked past it into an enjoyable little flick.
Ben Affleck is one of the first things that people complain about when they talk about this movie. And while I agree that there were many scenes, mainly when he was Daredevil with the mask off, where he just had a dull blank stare with no real emotion or heart, there were plenty of others where he did great. I especially liked all of his scenes with Jon Favreau as his law partner Foggy. The two of them have great chemistry and when they make each other laugh during their conversations, it really feels genuine. This is the first notch to chalk up to the director’s cut, as there are several more scenes with Foggy as the film goes deeper into the second case and brings in Coolio as their other defendant. I believe that he was completely cut out of the theatrical cut, and it’s a shame, because he is great fun as a patsy who smoked too much weed and ended up in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Jennifer Garner was a pretty good choice as Elektra, and the filmmakers were confident enough in her role to give her a shot at a stand alone movie a couple years later. This was coming off of her great run on the spy show Alias, and she got to show off more of her moves even though most of the time she was fighting Matt Murdock/Daredevil. I didn’t have a huge problem with the relationship between the two of them, but I did think that it moved really quickly, and never had much depth to it. The biggest thing that I can’t avoid talking about is the much maligned playground fight between the two of them. Matt Murdock is someone who doesn’t appear to hide behind his condition too much, unless it helps him win a case or get the attention of a girl. But to have a full on martial arts battle in broad daylight is really stretching any credulity this movie has. Aside from the believability factor, I have to say that it was still a fun little fight with some nice choreography.
The villains in this movie were both fun choices. Some people might argue that Colin Farrell went a little too over the top as Bullseye, but I loved every second he was on screen. He was playing a larger than life villain, and he was having a great time playing him. Every time he would finger the bullseye mark on his forehead, or when he would do some random magic trick to create a weapon from something mundane, I had a blast with it. And the smooth businessman public persona of the Kingpin who could erupt into a random rage in a moments notice was an interesting counterpoint to Bullseye. The only thing I didn’t much enjoy about the Kingpin was the fairly anticlimactic way that he was defeated at the end, especially with the both the identity reveal of Matt Murdock combined with the odd threat of prison sex because he was “beaten by a blind guy”.
The fights in the movie were all rather varied with different degrees of success. I think no one would disagree that the first fight as Daredevil in the biker bar was the best one. It had such a great mix of action, style, and visuals. Not only that, but it really amped up the sound design of the fight, really playing with the sound choices to help get inside the head of Daredevil as he fights. The gunshots are all muted, and the sounds of an escaping Quesada are amplified. It really creates a unique atmosphere for the fight that is nowhere near topped throughout the entire rest of the film. I also remember the film when it came out being applauded for its unique, yet appropriate, blind radar sight visuals. I just wasn’t quite as impressed with them now than I was when I first saw them. The one thing that I still do appreciate is the all too brief glimpse into an independent, blind life. I would have loved to have seen more little touches like they did with the boxes of sorted paper money being folded in specific ways so he can tell them apart by feel.
Daredevil is a very flawed comic book movie, and while the director’s cut does its part to alleviate some of those flaws, it can’t quite get rid of them all. But in my opinion, the parts that it gets right are good enough that I can still enjoy this movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, and I’ve heard a lot of negativity about this movie since, but I was able to put it all aside and really enjoy myself a fun little movie. And on top of everything else, it’s got a nice little Kevin Smith cameo in it. I haven’t even mentioned the great Joey Pantoliano as the gossip reporter on the trail of who Daredevil really is. I think this almost has to be one of my guilty pleasure movies now. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.