Hatewatch: Daredevil (2003)

Where do I even start with this mess?

The beginning is as good as any place to start, so let’s go there first. The opening credits are clever enough; using the lights in New York cityscape windows to mimic Braille. And the very first shot of Daredevil himself is pulled right from the Guardian Devil graphic novel. Then, after these first five minutes, the movie goes completely sideways.

The Ben Affleck voice over is terrible. As soon as he starts telling the story, the skin crawls at what a shitty actor Affleck is. And not even an endearing shitty like you routinely find in B-movies; he’s just a full-on turd. When you can tell a shitty actor just by hearing his voice, well, I mean…that pretty much tells you everything, right?

After the accident that gives young Matt Murdock his special “radar sense”, we see some special effects that are actually relatively decent. For 2003, anyway. The sound of the I.V. dripping causing sound waves which Matt can “see” is effective in demonstrating how these new powers work.

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I kind of like the direction that was taken. It’s not perfect, but in a lot of ways it’s better than the absolutely nothing that we see in the Netflix Daredevil series. At least the film makes an attempt to be true to the comic. But, as a friend on Twitter pointed out, sometimes even staying true to the source material can be a failure.

A typical example of Daredevil’s radar sense.



Then, seemingly within no time at all, Matt is fighting the neighborhood bullies that kicked his ass 10 minutes ago, and doing so with the powers that took almost no time to hone. Well, except for that time he slid down a metal rail.

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The fight sequence is horrific, but only until you see a grown Matt Murdock fight Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). Their fight is so ridiculously bad that you almost feel embarrassed for them. It can’t even attain CW-level fight choreography. I mean, the little boys who live next door to me have staged better fight sequences than this.


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The script is cliched, basic, and predictable; there is nothing humorous, novel, or remotely interesting within it. And it seems as though every line is delivered in such a way to draw our attention to that fact; almost as if the cast is screaming for help by giving the flattest, most uninspired deliveries possible. And that’s just Affleck and Garner!

Now, let’s get to the rest of the cast. What was Colin Farrell even doing? Mark Wahlberg recently said he asked for God’s forgiveness for Boogie Nights, but it would be great if Farrell asked for OUR forgiveness for what he did with Bullseye. In the comics, the character is a homicidal maniac, but Farrell’s portrayal is more camp than straight. That doesn’t offset Daredevil’s seriousness as much as it is just bewildering; like they’re in two separate movies. What is really strange about Daredevil is that most of the supporting actors do a more convincing job of acting than the stars. Joey Pants is Joey Pants, and the ethnically ambiguous and versitile Erick Avari is always fun to see in a film. Add in a cowering Leland Orser as Wesley, and the supporters really aren’t too bad.

The only real redeeming quality of Daredevil is the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Perfectly-cast as the physically imposing Kingpin, he could have been even more menacing, probably even iconic, with a director who had taken the project even remotely seriously. Although a bright spot in the film, his potential was wasted due to the weakness of everything else around him.

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With some touch-ups to the script and casting changes at three of the main parts, Daredevil could have been a decent film rather than the flaming turd that it is. The bottom line is that Mark Steven Johnson ruined everything that could have been good with this movie, and it’s a damn good thing he’s gotten relatively few chances to direct in the last 14 years.

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