Review: ‘Elektra’

Not the best, but not the worst (and the upcoming Fantastic Four movie can only make it look better).

After being killed in Daredevil, Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is resurrected by her old mentor Stick (Terence Stamp) but cannot come to grips with her personal rage. She becomes an assassin for hire until she encounters Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout). Both are being hunted by The Hand, an evil organization led by the evil Rosji (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his evil henchman Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), leader of a band of evil assassins. While no one knows how The Hand keeps a traditional wood and thatch roof from blowing off the top of a skyscraper, everyone knows that Elektra will eventually kick everyone’s butt.

Honestly, the film could have been worse, but it has enough fun stuff and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that can go a long way for what is essentially an excuse to see Jennifer Garner take charge and dish out some damage. Fans of Paul Anderson’s Mortal Kombat (the original, not the crappy spinoffs and sequels) will enjoy the blend of epic story, ancient myth, small budget, and wire-fu. And, of course, the camera loves Jennifer Garner doing her action heroine thing, and it doesn’t hurt that she can act besides being able to run in high heels.

The stakes were low to begin with for this action piece, but purists will note all the redeemable changes to the character of Elektra to quickly move her from mournful killer to tragic hero and all the comic book trappings therein. It’s always nice to see Will Yun Lee getting some work, because he’s visually very interesting and a good actor, but he needs to either play a really nasty bad guy or try to get his hero status back (long missing since TNT’s “Witchblade” plug was pulled). Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as a villain wasn’t half as strange as the fact we don’t get to see him fight. Terence Stamp phones in his part as mentor, but Mr. Stamp doesn’t have to do much to look the part; the actor seems to have stopped aging since trying to take over the earth in Superman II.

These kinds of films are the American answer to Hong Kong action theater; as long as they don’t expect us to believe it, they won’t try and sell it like we should. With special effects getting cheaper and stunt people still willing to risk their necks for a paycheck, actresses like Garner have a ready outlet for films like this. Hey, at least it’s more original than 13 Going on 30, okay?

(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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