"Daredevil"


"Daredevil" is good, but not great. For comics fans, it will be hailed as a wonderful realization. But for others, it may seem to be just another guy in a leather suit beating people up.

The movie is about a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock. Matt's father, Jack "The Devil" Murdock, is a boxer by night and muscle for the mob by day. Matt is blinded by toxic chemicals during an accident in which Matt sees his father muscling for the mob.   

The elder Murdock gives up his goon ways, but later runs afoul of his mob boss and ends up dead. Matt kneels over his father's dead body and swears that he will do justice and fight the evil of the mob. How can a blind boy do this? He has developed heightened senses because of his loss of sight.   

The movie is set in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York, where Matt works to help the down-and-out find justice by day. If justice is not served in the courts, he serves it as Daredevil, a vigilante who uses those heightened senses to beat down those skirting the law.   

Various characters help drive the story. One is the Kingpin, the mob boss responsible for all crime in New York. Another is Elektra, a vengeful rich girl trained in kung fu. There is Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, Matt's law partner, who acts as comic relief. Finally, there's Bullseye, an Irish assassin who kills people by throwing objects like paperclips, pencils and shards of glass.   

Many of these characters are either psychotic or borderline psychotic. Matt is conflicted because of his drive to bring justice by any means necessary, yet he realizes the harm that he is doing.  He wants to think of himself as being one of the good guys, but good guys do not act like he does. 

The movie will be compared to "Batman" because "Daredevil" is Marvel's version of "Batman." Furthermore, the Batman movie of the late '80s was based on the work of Frank Miller, who retold the Batman mythos in the Dark Knight series. But Miller placed his fingerprint first on the Daredevil series, and the story line and the characters here are from Miller's take on Daredevil.   

Visually, the movie is stunning. Those who know the character through the comics will recognize many of the drawn panels from the comics realized in the scenes. The effects are first rate and the darkness of the scenery allows us to imagine the darkness shrouding the characters. 

A problem with the movie is that it shoots for an audience that will not fully realize what is trying to be done here. The movie is rated PG-13, and it is a hard PG-13. It is trying to get under the rating wire so kids can see it. But to do justice to what is being presented, it needed to take the artistic dare of being an R. This is dark material that most under the age of 13 do not need to see.   

Also, too many characters restrict the necessary character development each needs. A good example of this is the Kingpin. Michael Clarke Duncan is the only working actor who could be the mammoth crime lord, but there is little understanding of who he is.  

In the comics, the Kingpin is an elegant man who has risen above the crime of the streets and become a refined gentleman with an edge that can cut. The movie's Kingpin seems nothing more than another street hood who has rubbed out his competition and put on a suit to run the mob.   

"Daredevil" is good, but not great. For comics fans, it will be hailed as a wonderful realization. But for others, it may seem to be just another guy in a leather suit beating people up.   

Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C. 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action/violence and some sensuality 

Director: Mark Steven Johnson 

Writer: Brian Helgeland and Mark Steven Johnson 

Cast:  Matt Murdock/Daredevil: Ben Affleck; Elektra: Jennifer Garner; Kingpin: Michael Clarke Duncan; Bullseye: Colin Farrell; Franklin "Foggy" Nelson: Jon Favreau; Urich: Joe Pantoliano; Jack Murdock: David Keith.

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