Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

When I had heard that director Mark Steven Johnson had readied a ‘Directors Cut’ of his movie ‘Daredevil’ I will admit I wasn’t overwhelmed with joy. Nothing against Mr. Johnson or his abilities as a director, it’s just of the ‘Directors Cut’ versions of movies I’ve seen, more times than not, they are just longer and so the theatrical release is usually the better release. However I had heard some really good things about this version of ‘Daredevil’, a movie I saw when it was initially released back in 2003 and one that I thought at the time was passable entertainment. I realized though as I put in the disk for the Director’s Cut that the original version must have left so little impression on me, also considering that it was five years ago and that my brain is aging far faster than the rest of my body, that I probably wouldn’t know what was added and what was taken out. Regardless, I slip in the disk and watch it anyway to see if this version could make more of a lasting impact on me than the theatrical release managed to do.

To gloss over the story that is probably relatively well known by now, Ben Affleck assumes the role of blind Lawyer Matt Murdock who helps the down trodden by day as a pro-bono lawyer, along with his long suffering partner Foggy Nelson (John Favreau), but by night he helps the disenfranchised by going straight up vigilante as the costumed Daredevil: The Man Without Fear! Murdock narrates the film, informing us on the tragic accident that led to his blindness but also greatly heightened his remaining senses. He also fills us in on how his pug father was murdered and how he since then has dedicated his life to helping the forgotten residents of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.

The city is being controlled by a mysterious figure known only as The Kingpin, who is actually gargantuan businessman Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) who rules with this city with a brutally efficient iron hand. Across town Murdock struggles with his dual identity, doubting whether or not he’s actually making a difference, that is

until the beautiful Electra Nachios (Jennifer Garner) floats in the little corner café, with Murdock thinking to himself ‘Girl, you gonna have my baby one day. As soon as I shake this Puerto Rican chick.’ As it so happens Kingpin is none too happy with Electra’s old man (Erick Avari) who wants out of the game so he imports lunatic hitman Bullseye (Colin Farrel) to take him out, who does just that, though the gloriously athletic Electra thinks Daredevil did the deed. Anyway there are a couple of bravura fight scenes, a terrible tragedy, and a few big showdowns between a pair of heavies before the final credits will roll.

I had forgotten that I had written a short review on Epinions, before I got booted out of the community (for good reason), on this movie five years ago and the last line of my review read: ‘It was probably better before the scissors got to it, but still watchable in its present state.’ Other than the fact that quoting oneself is incredibly lame, am I the genius sage of sitting on ones ass and watching movies or what? Johnson’s Directors Cut makes for a considerably better film than the theatrical release, just as we’ve all heard, though it’s still not a film I’d consider great, but at least now it’s a good movie and not simply a forgettable mediocre one. My main complaint about the theatrical release was just wasn’t enough substance for the characters and the movie felt like it was in a rush to get it itself over with, particularly in the development of The Kingpin. The Director’s Cut fixes a lot of that as Johnson goes a long way in giving the audience a greater sense of Matt Murdock by fleshing out his character and humanizing his alter ego. There still wasn’t enough Kingpin for me, considering he’s the main heavy in the flick, but there was more Michael Clark Duncan which also added overall to the substance of the movie. This version of the film, with its added content, creates a considerably darker film which assists in giving focus to Ben Affleck’s performance as Murdock / Daredevil, where as before he was just a guy in a silly red costume going from slick set piece to slicker set piece.

There were a few things left in that still holds the movie back in my opinion, such as Colin Farrell’s very peculiar interpretation of the Bullseye character who was far too obnoxious and over the top to be all that intimidating as a villain. Also remaining is that oddly out of place love fight dance between Electra and Murdock that was silly in the theatrical cut, but even sillier in this expanded and darker version of the film. Another thing I guess that would have been difficult to take out was Matt Murdock’s awful haircut. I don’t if that was Affleck’s real hair or not but I thought it was strange how in the rain scenes the water just bounced off that matted mess. What was up with that? Was it supposed to further illustrate his blindness and his inability to properly use a comb? I’ve also read that there was a love scene between Electra and Murdock that was cut out of this film from the theatrical release that for life of me I can’t remember seeing. You would think that a guy would remember Jennifer Garner having pretend sex, but that scene must’ve been pretty bad to fail to jar even the slightest memory.

There is no doubt the Mark Steven Johnson’s ‘Daredevil: The Director’s Cut’ is a vastly superior film than the theatrical release and that this time the studio got it all wrong. One has to wonder if Johnson has a ‘Director’s Cut’ of ‘Ghost Rider’ floating out there somewhere because Mark Steven, if you can rescue that one, then you are TRULY the man.

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