Writer: Mark Steven Johnson
Director: Rob Bowman
Music: Christophe Beck
We’re going way back because this film is worth talking about, even approaching 2020.
Jennifer Garner is effortlessly sexy in all red as the assassin-turned-guardian, Elektra.
Bad ass and beautiful is something Hollywood has emphasized in strong female leads since the beginning of time. But often the female character leads more with looks or tries too hard to be tough, and it leaves me unbalanced as a viewer. Jennifer Garner satisfied this craving of mine both with graceful strength and simplistic, flawless beauty. The confidence that danced in her eyes was unforgettable, and intimidating. Her introduction scene was a silent assassination of a dozen or so guards as she worked her way to her target. Only a true bad ass can induce outright fear with stealth.
In my opinion, the more powerful the villain, the greater the hero. Elektra faced the Hand, a collection of comic book antagonists with unique powers. Tattoo, a man whose ink comes alive; Stone, an indestructible giant; Typhoid, a poisonous goddess; Kinkou, a knife marksmen; all lead by Kirigi, a ghost.
A successful line-up of villains perfectly suiting the “legend” of Elektra’s character, and the supernatural essence of the entire storyline.
My favorite part about the villains was the music. Christophe Beck nailed the score for this movie! Still my favorite music score of all time.
In Elektra’s introduction, a soft, mysterious theme to match her stealth drummed out to a solid, deep chord to empower her hitting her mark. Incredible mastery with music.
You might not know how much music affects your interpretation of a character or a scene, or even the finest detail of a film, but it does subconsciously. More than anything I’ve resented in film is when a score doesn’t make villains sound villainous. I’m a writer, and I can’t imagine my demons walking on screen and hearing no sinister music to match the evil I’ve created. Christophe Beck does the antagonists justice with Elektra’s score.
A perfectly dark and simple, tribal even, theme dominates the screen as we’re introduced to the Hand. One by one they flow into the room, and with Beck’s deep bass and trickling synthe, the characters are evolved from “bad guys” to evil incarnate. Because of Beck’s music, we’re informed immediately that these are the guys you don’t want to mess with. We knew nothing about their powers, we weren’t even informed they were antagonists until “The Hand” theme played. It was an instinctive, subconscious reaction of fear. That’s the power of music composed effectively.
A chill-inducing moment of the movie was when Abby’s power was revealed.
No spoilers here, but that girl packs a bad ass temper and utilized it with discipline. Her reveal was executed at the perfect moment of the movie, sending chills up my spine and flushing my skin with goosebumps.
I have to criticize the movie is the lack of action scenes. When Elektra stays at the lakehouse, we’re set up for like fifteen minutes of standstill. My kids almost quit the film on me during this. If I weren’t a writer invested in stories, I might have dipped out too. But the lakehouse was imperative to Elektra’s character development (which is an essential part to
every written work).
When you set up killer villains against a legendary hero like Elektra, I expect to see a lot of one-on-one combat. I think it’s only fair, if you include a band of villains each with a particular power that you grant them the screen time to use that power against the heroine in a dramatic fight. This movie did just that, but it left me a little dissatisfied in their quick endings. Granted, a quick ending to an antagonist means a skilled protagonist, but still.
Practically-minded folk who critique film for physics errors and minor details can find many in this one. If you’re anything like me, however, you don’t watch movies to correlate directly with the world you know. You watch as an escape from reality into a world where (like in this movie), a hot superhero chick with sai knives can save us from bad guys whose tattoos come alive and whose mere presence can kill. The best part of movie-making is the theatrical dramatization of characters and events. Elektra’s hair whipping around when we first lay eyes on her. The floating sheets in Kirigi’s fight near the end of the movie. Those moments take what is so ordinary to us and amplify our emotions about them, creating an unrealistic (duh) but memorable moment in the movie. If movies applied physics, the sword fights would all be the same. What’s to separate this one from the one that happened in the Matrix? Well, the ghostly sheets of course.
The only details that bugged me were:
- In Elektra’s opening scene how the knife’s size expanded when killing DeMarco, but then the knife is less than a foot long the rest of the movie.
- The details of McCabe’s introduction: why did he arm himself when approaching Elektra who’s not a foe? And why does a supernatural assassin like Elektra care about scrubbing for DNA when her hair was free the whole fight? Seemed like an unnecessary error that could have been avoided had Elektra met up with McCabe under other circumstances.
- The movie is set at Christmastime which is revealed about twenty minutes in, and has no affect on the story whatsoever; it seemed out of place.
- Stone’s character: Being indestructible and strong seems like a cheat when it comes to creativity, especially when compared to Tattoo or Typhoid.
- Flashbacks: Two of them would have been sufficient in establishing Elektra’s mother’s death and the killer.
Despite these minor details, the movie was a must-buy for me this year. I couldn’t live without the supernatural enemies, and the bad ass visual representation of my only favored female superhero.