ninth symphony films - movie reviews

ELEKTRA (2005)

DIRECTOR  -  rob bowman

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  97 minutes

RELEASED  -  14 january 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  elektra

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $36,000,000
elektra - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from elektra at

buy the dvd from elektra at

elektra the warrior survives a near-death experience, becomes an assassin-for-hire, and tries to protect her two latest targets, a single father and his young daughter, from a group of supernatural assassins.

ben affleck filmed a cameo reprising his daredevil role as matt murdock but was cut from the final film.


picture from elektra

picture from elektra

picture from elektra

picture from elektra

picture from elektra


two out of four possible stars

Capitalizing on the popularity of Jennifer Garner's performance as "Elektra" in 2003's comic book to feature film mishap Daredevil, the creators of Elektra have taken the name and physique of that character and created an entirely new persona and story for her. Which can't be considered that much of a surprise since Elektra did not survive to the final credits of Daredevil. And in creating a new film for Garner's strong persona, the screenwriters seem to have forgotten decent filmmaking techniques.

Basic elements such as lighting, pacing, dialogue and story are eschewed in favor of interesting martial arts sequences and fancy camera tricks. Which, given the dark lighting of many of the scenes, the action scenes aren't always showcased to their full potential. The film seems to start of on the wrong foot even before the credits have fully completed with a long printed prologue that sets up the "story" of the movie in just a few words less than full dissertation length.

The film then stumbles further when, during one of its first scenes, an adversary of Elektra's and a man shortly to be dispatched by Elektra as part of her job as a mercenary, gives a rather long, innocuous speech. The large chunk of monologue might have been designed as a piece of back-story that was supposed to be concealed in the haze of style and sophistication the movie tries to present, but the actual dialogue is usually far too flowery and theatrical to make a believable impact. Although the screenwriters seem to have pulled the impossible by creating dramatic dialogue that seems far too staid for its application.

After audiences are made to wait through this interminably long speech and its actor is handily dispatched by Elektra in what can probably be considered a prologue to the true story, there is a short and quite explanatory scene where the difficulties of Elektra's life are laid out in plain language for viewers while she scrubs a floor and has a chat with the man who passes jobs on to her as if he was an actor's agent. After she's handed her next assignment and told to go wait at a remote lakeside cabin for further instruction, the audience lands at a few quiet, long minutes of think time.

With the bevy of comic book heroes and heroines finding their way to the screen in recent years, filmmakers should realize that the fanciest camera tricks and the most accomplished martial artists can't cover the gaping holes left by a thin plot and weak storytelling. Comic book authors seem to take pride in the tortured psychology of their characters and while Elektra certainly sees some torment, it's usually at the hands of a human adversary rather than her own psychological difficulties. And as the story (that's a strong word for the narrative presented here) progresses, the film stops and starts so often viewers might find themselves jarred and annoyed.

While the annoyance will certainly stem from the soupy dialogue and cliché ridden monologues, the film literally stops the action in its tracks every ten minutes or so to delve into what the characters are considering for their next move. Rather than allow the story to find its direction through true character development, the filmmakers instead simply push the pause button on the martial arts theatrics and force the actors to utter a few predictable lines back and forth about their "troubles."

And from the varying degrees of acting talent present in the film, it's not an easy task for any of the performers to handle the dialogue when there's absolutely nothing going on in the scene and everyone is just standing around. At least during the action sequences the expected quips and one-liners are cushioned by the support of a few people engaging in Asian fisticuffs. When there's a dagger flying through the air or a character is thrown across a room or forest floor, it's easier to forget what they're saying in favor of simply watching the action unfold.

And if Elektra was a film packed top to bottom with action sequences, anything boring and tedious like story, dialogue, and character could have been forgotten in favor of considering the film a good "popcorn" movie. But even the well-versed Terence Stamp, playing Elektra's mentor, "Stick," passes the test only because his character is an odd, philosophical one and viewers would expect words such as the audial gem, "Don't look for your opponent. Know where he is. I'm blind, and I see more than any of you, because I don't look." Co-stars Goran Visnjic and Kirsten Prout (playing the father and daughter Elektra has been assigned to kill) fare even less well despite their strong efforts due to the usually laughable dialogue and (interestingly) from the strange lighting.

It's as if the cinematographer forgot a few lamps in the truck during filming or something. And there are several accomplished martial artists that provide well constructed action sequences for the film, but their efforts are usually wasted when the film's energy drops to zero when they aren't on the screen. Star Jennifer Garner can pull off exceedingly well any action sequence or stunt handed to her, but it's just not enough to make this movie something more than a hastily constructed film to showcase her fighting techniques. The fight sequences are probably worth taking a look at, but be prepared to utilize the fast forward button.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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