Mediocre Marvel Probes Elektra’s Complexes, Costumes


When contract assassin Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) arrives to fillet a target with her trusty sais, it turns out her prey has been expecting her. “I guess it’s all true,” he says. “The red outfit, the knives.” By now, the rote adaptation of second-tier Marvel is a slow-season tradition meant to satiate comic book fans while they wait for the summer blockbuster (in this case, July’s Fantastic Four). The pedestrian Elektra offers no surprises, and whether or not you’ll appreciate its modest charms depends entirely on whether you too have been anticipating Garner’s new outfit.

On the still-underrated TV series Alias, Garner plays CIA agent Sydney Bristow, whose undercover assignments require more costume changes than a Cher concert. But besides techno-goth fashion, Alias is about a vexed father-daughter relationship, not unlike the one Elektra had with papa Natchios, who was slain in 2003’s dismal Daredevil, but who appears here (different actor) in flashbacks to our anti-heroine’s manse youth. Garner’s Elektra is what vulnerable Syd might look like if she went rogue—a remote, ascetic killer.

Director Rob Bowman squanders the impressive comic facility Garner demonstrated in 13 Going on 30, saddling her with the OCD behavior and portentous self-control of a Michael Mann character. The nominal story, wrapped in more unnecessary Star Wars allusions than Bowman’s last feature, Reign of Fire, revolves around a supernatural cabal called the Hand, which wants to turn a teenage girl with prodigious ninja abilities to the dark side, or else destroy her.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 11, 2005

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