Elektra Rob Bowman

Elektra Rob Bowman
Jennifer Garner is an immense talent, but despite the success of her comic turn in last summer's charming 13 Going On 30, she has yet to prove that she can bring an audience to a weekly TV show (despite its acclaim and Garner's rising star, Alias still struggles, ratings-wise), much less open a big budget action movie all on her own. Unfortunately, on her own is exactly where Garner finds herself in Elektra, the comics-inspired spin-off from her appearance in Daredevil.

The film, directed by TV vet Rob Bowman, does its best to distance itself from the Daredevil disaster early on. The Affleck-in-leather vehicle doesn't get a single mention, but from the outset, Bowman tries to reclaim Elektra's dark side. Following her death, Elektra is resurrected and becomes one of the world's most deadly assassins. She lives a reclusive life and wants to keep it that way; despite the fortune she commands for her services, it's clear that Elektra is alone in the world. When she takes her next assignment and finds that her victims will be a recently befriended father, Mark Miller (ER's Goran Visnjic) and daughter Abby (relative newcomer Kirsten Prout), she ditches the assignment and turns do-gooding protector. (Her switch in the film is about that quick; the reasons for it just that muddy.)

The film spends most of its first hour letting Garner brood and mope; she does her best to hoist the film on her impressively muscled shoulders, but Bowman (and the script by three credited writers) gives her little to work with. The reasons why the Millers are targeted for assassination remain murky through much of the picture; instead, we move quickly to a quartet of mystically-endowed assassins, with names like Stone (he's big and hard), Typhoid (her touch drains life), and Tattoo (his body ink comes to life). Much is made of their indestructibility, at least until Garner's Elektra dispatches each of them with very little fanfare. (For an action movie, the sequences are remarkably slight and each villain's demise is notably underwhelming.)

The script is wafer-thin, the effects and action sequences are a superficial hodgepodge of Matrix wirework and cheap CGI, and the supporting characters are mere props orbiting around Garner. For her part, she's gamely trying to do her best in a film more interested in filming her sweet can clad in skin-tight red silk than telling an engaging story. That she can make this 90-minute exercise in futility even remotely engaging is a testament to her charms. Or how good her ass looks in red silk. (Fox)