After the moderate success of Daredevil, Fox decided that instead of going ahead with a sequel they would instead make a spin-off movie based on what they thought was the most successful part of Daredevil, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra. Here, she is a full-on assassin who ends up caring about her next targets and decides to save them from the evil clan of ninjas called the Hand, she eventually battles against a group of supernaturally powered ninjas while protecting the treasure, which is similar in nature to the key from Buffy. And while Daredevil is considered a bad to ok movie with an ok to good director’s cut, Elektra is pretty much considered on of the many bad movies with a female superhero as the lead and performed dismally at the box office. I vaguely remember watching this in theaters when it came out because I was (and still am) a fan of the Daredevil movie and enjoyed it at the time. However there is probably a reason why I waited so long to revisit this movie as it did not hold up to my memory at all. I am now in agreement that this is a pretty awful movie with a small handful of redeeming qualities to it. I’m also not sure if an R-rated director’s cut could help redeem it in the same way that Daredevil’s did, nor do I think anyone is really clamoring for one.
Even though it is a spinoff, it somehow managed to essentially become an origin story as well. Not specifically the origin of Elektra the assassin, but the origin of Elektra the anti-hero. This takes place however many years after the events of Daredevil where Elektra has become the best assassin-for-hire, able to take top dollar because of how good she is at what she does and is empty inside because of it. Or something like that. She ends up getting a new job, but instead of giving her the targets right away, she is instructed to wait, thereby allowing her to get to know her future targets so that when the order is finally given, she hesitates and decides to help them instead of eliminate them. There’s also plenty of instances where her past comes back to haunt her, both for the better and for the worse.
One of the biggest annoyances about this film is how convoluted and interconnected everything is. Elektra’s target is a young girl who is also this treasure that is extremely important, though the specifics of how the treasure is important is never explained, it’s merely explicitly stated several times that she is important. There are two factions that are after the treasure, there’s the Hand which is a clan of evil ninjas that spends a lot of time in boardroom meetings for some reason and disappear into puffs of green smoke when killed for PG-13 reasons. The leader of the subset of the Hand sent specifically to retrieve the treasure is also revealed later in the movie to be the same person who killed Elektra’s mother when she was a young girl. And she has conveniently been having flashbacks of her mother’s death, though in her mind the figure of the killer had been replaced with that of a demon. On the side of good is Stick played by the great Terrence Stamp and his group of warriors who trained Elektra, but made her leave, and also trained/is training the treasure. And even though there are no references to it here, Stick was also the one who originally trained Daredevil in the comics. It all just feels so ridiculously interconnected for reasons that make little to no sense.
It also doesn’t have very fleshed out characters with believable motivations. Elektra herself is given these character traits such as her OCD which is inexplicably shown through what is scored and edited as if it were an action scene where she organizes her bathroom in a perfectly parallel manner, though the OCD never actually manifests itself in any manner relevant to the story outside of one brief moment where she confronts the treasure as also having it. There’s also a romantic subplot between Elektra and the treasure’s father, though there is no chemistry between the two actors so it’s actually a surprise when they actually kiss since there had been little to no real coming together of the two characters, they were just next to each other the whole time.
The villains were also given just as little development as the heroes. The head of the group of supernatural, misfit ninjas who also happened to kill Elektra’s mother, Kirigi had very little to do outside of the fight scenes. And his band of ninjas were even less interesting outside of some of their super powers. While I was fond of Tattoo whose power is the ability to bring his tattoos to life, the special effects on those living tattoos were pretty dated, and Tattoo himself spends his time merely looking sinister and doesn’t even have any lines. This also applies to Stone who gets dispatched in the most ridiculous way of having a tree fall on him that Elektra rides on the way down. Typhoid Mary is the one who is given the most lines, and has an actual comics background which I am not familiar with, but it’s also wasted here. The most interesting element of her background was the fact that she was the treasure before Abby, the girl that they’re trying to get. But that was just given via a throwaway line and didn’t impact the rest of the plot at all.
The one saving grace for this movie was the fight choreography. Jennifer Garner came from a fighting background with her work on Alias and actually put in the hours of training needed to pull off most of the stunts herself, and Kirigi was played by Will Yun Lee who comes from a fighting background himself so the climactic fights between the two of them looked great and were obviously not done with stunt doubles. The downside is that there really is only one or two fight scenes that was able to showcase those talents to full effect. Which is a shame, because Elektra is a great character that could have been able to lead this movie, but there were too many plot issues and weak characters which resulted in a pretty mediocre movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.