dir. Bowman
Opens Fri Jan 14
Various Theaters

Marvel's efforts to put every minor comic character on the big screen (where's Luke Cage: Hero for Hire?), continues with another snooze-doozy--starring Jennifer Garner (TV's Alias) as hotsy-totsy assassin Elektra. Popularized by comic author Frank Miller, this unfortunate version drains every drop of blood and insanity from his surrealistic tales, trading them for good ol' American maternalistic values.

For those who remember Elektra croaking in 2003's abysmal Ben Affleck vehicle Daredevil--well! Turns out the "croaks" on YOU! Thanks to the handy plot device of "Asian mysticism," Elektra is alive and killing. Unfortunately, when she's assigned to bump off hunky dad (E.R. 's Goran Visnjic) and his annoying 13-year-old daughter, this once badass killer gets all mooshy inside, protecting the pair from a gang of super-powered ninja assassins. Elektra then steps in to become step-mommy, training Junior Miss in the arts of self-defense--which include kicking ass and predicting the future.

Turns out I share the latter of these two talents, as I was able to correctly predict every plot point 15 minutes before it happened. This lumbering tugboat of a script is overloaded with clichés, and underloaded with character development. The fight scenes are uninspiring, and the last act is as maudlin as your average daytime soap.

However, while Garner's natural gee-whiz innocence wouldn't make her my first choice for Elektra, she does bring a certain degree of ennui to the role--and yes, she's packing a sweet piece of ass. It's too bad her obvious talent is being wasted in Alias-y types of movie roles that are worse than most of the stuff you see on TV. Frank Miller painted the character as a bloodthirsty psycho; a stretch Garner is obviously hankering for. Instead she's stuck in this paint-by-numbers "assassin becomes surrogate mommy" crap. With roles like this, no wonder she signed up for four more years of Alias.