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Elektra Reviews

"Since time began, a war has been waged in the shadows between the forces of good and evil," intones a portentous voice, setting up a pallid DAREDEVIL (2003) spin-off that never rises above the mediocrity of its opening narration. And while Elektra Natchios made her screen debut in DAREDEVIL (2003), which relied heavily on renowned writer-artist Frank Miller's contributions to the long-running Marvel comic series, her complicated romance with costumed crime-fighter Matt Murdock is never mentioned and her death alluded to only in general terms. Screenwriters Zak Penn, Raven Metzner and Stuart Zicherman essentially wipe clean Elektra's past, reducing her to a generic lethal babe adrift in a formulaic, martial arts-heavy story of violence and redemption as dull and denatured as CATWOMAN (2004). Born into a fabulously wealthy family, little Elektra (Laura Ward) lost her mother to supernatural killers and grew up to be the most feared contract killer in the world. The moody, haunted Elektra (Jennifer Garner, reprising her DAREDEVIL role) takes on a new job, only to find that her intended victims are Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) and Abby (Kirsten Prout), the studly single father and precocious teenager she's just befriended. Shaken by how much Abby reminds her of her younger self, Elektra resolves to protect them against assassins in the employ of mystical society The Hand. And so begins a tiresome series of face-offs between Elektra and her nemeses, who include the near-indestructible Stone (Bob Sapp); Tattoo (Chris Ackerman), whose menacing body art pulls free of his flesh (a cool concept ruined by unpersuasive CGI execution); limber Kinkou (Edson T. Ribeiro); poisonous Typhoid (Natassia Malthe), who draws Elektra into the film's only remotely racy moment, a toxic girl-girl kiss; and, finally, their leader, Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), with whom Elektra has unfinished business. These set pieces are interspersed with logy flashbacks to the death of Elektra's mother (which strongly recall similarly themed flashbacks in 1995's CRYING FREEMAN) and sequences in which she bonds with the bratty Abby, the hugely annoying "treasure" the Hand is determined to control. Frank Miller's name is conspicuous by its absence from the credits, even though he created troubled-assassin Elektra while writing Daredevil in the early '80s, along with blind martial-arts master Stick (played with admirable elegance by Terence Stamp), The Hand and its various bizarre minions. Garner looks as terrific in Elektra's trademark scarlet bustier as Halle Berry did in Catwoman drag, but pinup appeal alone does not a compelling movie make.