Film — Elektra (PG-13)

Elektra (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Leather pants, boobies and, oh yeah,  Jennifer Garner star in the fightastic battered-and-fried cheese stick that is Elektra, the spin-off to a movie that, sure, was fun and all but didn’t exactly set records in the being-any-good department.

Daredevil, people, they made a spin-off to Daredevil. This was a movie whose greatest thrill was watching Ben Affleck pretend (unconvincingly) that he was blind. Never has looking good in leather won a supporting character so much.

Elektra (Garner) died, maybe, or something in Daredevil and was brought back to life by Terrence Stamp, whose character is blind and named Stick, via the Pat-Moreno-in-Karate Kid move of applying vigorously-warmed-hands on the body of the wounded. He exacted payment for this little bit of health care much like most HMOs do — by co-opting all her waking hours in his service. She goes back to his stylishly Asian-looking summer camp and learns the ways of The Force (or, actually, she learns the force of The Way — some all-purpose fighting, healing and future prognosticating life plan).

Except that our darling Elektra is just too angry to properly accept this particular martial-arts Jesus in her heart so she is cast out — all butt-kicking ability but without the insufferable morality to back it up. What does a single, fit, superhuman girl do when her leader forsakes her? Why, go into the killing-for-hire business of course. It is here that Elektra strikes fear into the hearts of men by first confusing them with her saucy red killin’ outfit and shiny coif and then slicing and dicing them with two nifty-looking swords.

Ah, but one can not run from angst forever. Eventually Elektra is hired to do in the not-quite-Clooney-but-you’ll-do Mark (ER’s former Goran Visnjic) and his precocious daughter Abby (Kristen Prout). But first, they invite her to dinner and Elektra, orphaned daddy’s girl that she is, gets all melty of heart and mushy of resolve. She decides to flip allegiances and protect her marks instead of eliminating them. In doing so, she indirectly decides to take on The Hand — a vaguely Japanese group of corporate-looking suits who use a group of C-list supervillians to do their dirty work. (The villains have as their powers the ability to make their tattoos come to life, the ability to make people sick, the ability to make curtains billow as they wield their swords. Yes, formidable powers all.)

Elektra’s plot and script suck with the force of a Dyson vacuum cleaner, a fact of which both cast and crew are clearly aware. Admirably, they try to make up for it by keeping the talking and story development to a minimum and focusing on what they clearly feel are the film’s most bankable assets — the fighting and Garner’s T and A. When we aren’t watching someone stir things up in the martial-arts department, we are getting a lingering and almost always completely unnecessary view of Garner’s boobs, butt or well-toned tummy. In fact, the view is usually so lingering that you get time to think things like “huh, that’s a pretty good stomach for a 32-year-old. I wonder what she does, sit-ups? Crunches? Pilates? Can general weight-loss get a stomach like that or do you have to do concentrated exercises? I wonder if I can get a personal trainer as part of my gym membership or if I have to pay extra.” Another scene featuring a blowing-off-steam Elektra taking a dip in a lake set me wondering about where she got her bikini and if you had to buy the pieces separately and if it was better to buy swimsuits early in the spring when there’s a greater selection or later in the summer when you are more likely to buy the right size.

But, these silly concerns aside, the central issue in Elektra clearly is connected to the great violence wrought by this warrior. With all the people she’s killed, with all the death she’s witnessed and participated in, how does she keep her long, unfettered hair from getting in her way as she fights? In braids for the scenes of pointless exposition, her hair is always unloosened for the big battles. Has it really escaped that many bad guys that one way to defeat her is to pull it?

Actually, you know what, from the low-rent bad guys in Elektra, that this major weakness in their opponent has completely escaped their notice is not a big surprise. Like the movie itself, none of the people Elektra fights overwhelms you with either intelligence or skill of execution.

- Amy Diaz

 
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