Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Elektra

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence

Reviewed by: Keith Howland
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action/Adventure, Crime, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 37 min.
Year of Release:
2005
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Featuring: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Terence Stamp, Jason Isaacs, Will Yun Lee
Director: Rob Bowman
Producer: Mark Steven Johnson, Gary Foster, Avi Arad
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Elektra is a sort of sequel to last year’s DareDevil [read review], which featured Elektra as a minor character out for revenge against a colorful villain. As in the Marvel comic books that inspired it, Elektra was killed in her pursuit. (She was impaled through her exposed midriff, which raises the nagging question of why female superhero-types always seem to be dressed so vulnerably. Of course, we know the answer, but they do seem to eschew the compulsion of their male counterparts to completely conceal themselves. DareDevil, for instance, exposes only his chin to the world, whereas Spider-Man covers up even that!)

In comic books, death is rarely an obstacle. So Elektra returns to life for her own comic book series and now her own movie. The film eventually reveals who restores her to life, and (sort of) how he does it, but there is little compelling motive for it, except that if she did not live again there would be no story. Especially strange is that the vocation Elektra adopts for her second life is that of a contract killer!

After an opening scene establishing Elektra’s somewhat ill-defined, but fearsome abilities at her job, the film introduces the pivotal conundrum that will serve to validate her second chance at life: She is contracted to kill a father and daughter whom she does not want to kill, so she opts instead to defend them. This is no small task, as a nasty Asian conglomerate called “The Hand” is after “The Treasure” that this father and daughter have something to do with. So Elektra seeks the help of her erstwhile blind martial arts instructor and aphorism-spouting guru, Stick, and his band of devotees.

To say anything more of the plot may give too much away, since there is so little to it, but what follows mostly involves a slew of nefarious villains whose abilities appear to far exceed Elektra’s, and yet against whom she manages to prevail anyway. (Why she does, when she previously met her death at the hand of just one villain with lesser ability is one of many, many brain-busters in the film.)

Shakespeare would likely call Elektra a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The filmmakers may protest that their story is rife with significance, but the characters and dialogue are so insipid, the plot so thin and inconsistent, and the presentation so murky that any attempt at profundity is lost. The clear selling point is watching Jennifer Garner (star of spy-thriller TV series “Alias”) engage in lots of sparring with all sorts of nasty Ninja-types. If that is your craving, then perhaps you will not look at your watch too often during the film.

Amidst the muddled mayhem there is some attempt at philosophical reflection, even though no character has depth exceeding those in a television commercial. (Elektra is so bland it is difficult to have any feelings for her, although poor Ms. Garner is hardly to blame for the meager script. Of course, when the protagonist is so poorly realized, the supporting characters have no hope.)

Elektra’s predominant power is something called Kimagurie, which is seeing what is going to happen before it happens. In her case, this ability is fairly limited (she does not know a house she is in will be surrounded by thugs until it actually is), but its mastery is related to “inner stillness”-a concept much like what is found in Buddhism, Confucianism, and the other Eastern philosophical religions. As such, the film mentions nothing related to deity, although it contradictorily talks of an age-old struggle between good and evil, which is a concept alien to Eastern religions, which posit that reality is an illusion. By contrast, the Bible tells us that God created the universe of reality, and that it was good (Genesis 1-2), but that evil entered the world through Satan (Genesis 3), and mankind’s continual struggle with sin and evil continues throughout history, until at last Christ will return to conquer evil forever, casting Satan and all his minions into the lake of fire (Revelation 20).

If the film has a theme (apart from slamming evil), it is second chances. At one point a character muses that Elektra is defending the lives of those she was meant to kill as penance for what she had done before. Elektra’s mentor, Stick (played by Terence Stamp) later tells her that “I always knew your heart was pure; you just needed to see it for yourself.” In the world that God created (not the one fashioned by Marvel Comics and Twentieth-Century Fox), there is a way for all people to have a second chance. But it is not personal penance, or discovering the inherent goodness in oneself. The Bible says that every person (except Jesus Christ) is born a sinner, ever since Adam and Eve defied God in the Garden of Eden.

We are incapable of making ourselves good, because there is no good to be found in us (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 53:3; Genesis 8:21). We deserve the fate that awaits Satan and his minions at the end of history. But God in his great mercy sent Jesus Christ-the one sinless man and God incarnate-who took upon Himself the fate we deserve in His death on the cross and rose again to new life so that we too might have new life.

We acquire this new life by repenting of our sin and trusting Jesus as our Savior, so that through Him God will forgive our sins and grant us eternal life (Romans 5:18; John 3:16, 11:25-26; Romans 6:23; I Corinthians 15:22; etc.).

(What a contrast is Christ’s resurrection from the dead to Elektra’s! His means life for all who believe, whereas hers was nearly meaningless.) In a way, Elektra does repent of her sin because she does turn from her life of killing (“repent” means “to turn back”), but she then attempts to be good on her own ability, which is impossible in real life. Only Christ restores people to godliness (John 14:6, etc.).

Copyrighted ©

Elektra is full of violence, mostly of hand-to-hand, Ninja-type hurly-burly. There is actually very little blood, though, as most of the punch of the pummeling is established by sound effects. There is a smattering of profane language, too, and of course repeated scenes of our hero clad in what often seems less than a full costume, especially in the beginning and end of the film when she wears her famous red Elektra outfit.

At the end of the film, Elektra says to Stick, “Your second life is never really as good as your first, is it?” He replies, “Sometimes it’s even better.” This is the nearest the film gets to profound truth and to real life. For all those who believe in Christ as their Savior and Lord, the second life is eternally better (see Revelation 21). That is a hope far greater than anything this trying film offers its cardboard characters.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild


Copyrighted ©
Read our review of the 2003 prequel to this film, DAREDEVIL.

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line! Are you going to Heaven?

Negative—I had to leave the theater. Being a Spirit filled Christian, I should have known better that to go and take my family to see this movie. At first, when the film used that method of raising people from the dead, the Lord told me that this was not going to be good. So I stayed in spite of what the Holy Spirit said to me. Throughout the movie there were many killings and many occultic things going on. The final straw was the scene where the so called “bad guys” had followed Electra and her friends into the forest. Then the evil bad guys proceeded to meditate and use some form of power to transform their bodies into animals.You could just feel the evil through the screne. It was then that I had just enough. I looked over to my children and said close your eyes, this movie is evil. Then my oldest son said to me, “Mom, let’s go!” I could see the discomfort in his eyes. As soon as we left there we prayed and asked for forgiveness. You could just feel the evil coming from this show. This film was very alarming and full of the devil! I was very disappointed to see this promising young actress play in this film. As a Christian, I would not recommend this movie to anyone at all.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1
—Linda Perez, age 31
Negative—Dark and disturbing. Trying to make a serial murderer into some sort of likeable heroine?! Sorry, doesn’t work for me. And, yawn, one more flick with martial arts filling the screen time and time and, yes, time again. Been there. Done that. One more thing… the comic book as film genre almost demands a certain fun, light-heartedness. This film has no bright and light spots at all.
My Ratings: Average/2
—Ron Reames, age 58
Positive—As a comic book enthusiast, I always enjoy when a movie like this one comes out. And this one was awesome! From a Christian perspective there was some language; I can’t remember exactly how much, but for PG-13 very mild. The violence is the main reason for the film, martial arts type fighting, people getting stabbbed, things like that. For an action movie, like I said before, great. Non-stop action, amazing special-effects, a good storyline (could’ve been stretched a bit in places to make some parts easier to understand though). But overall I’d recommend this film to anyone.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Andrew, age 23
Negative—My wife and I are both Born Again Christians. Because so much of the films that are made today that are rated PG-13 contain either key characters that are gay and the films tend to advocate that chose of lifestyle, or the film includes brief nudity, or it contains offensive and profane language, we chose to rent and view the movie Elektra as the content was listed as having violence. There was a large dose of violence but what we discovered was an abundance of content that was demonic—the ability of characters to transform themselves from humans into beasts. Even a man’s tattoo came to life as a beast.

Although our children are adult and have children of their own, I wonder just how confusing this material is to our young people that might view it? I also feel that it promotes religions other then Christianity which can only confuse.

My wife and I would certainly not recommend renting this movie to anyone, especially fellow Christians.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/1
—Markim, age 49

Comments from young people
Positive—Despite of what the critics have said, I think this was a great movie. I don’t think it’s the quality that really matters, I think it’s just what movies you like. If you like action-packed martial arts movies you would probally like this. There is some swearing so no one under 12 I would say. There is a lot of violence but not a lot of blood. All in all I give it a great rating. There is no nudity or references to sex. I give it a A!
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Anna M., age 15
Positive—Not much of a plot. but the fights were well done and there’s not much bad language. I would definitely buy this movie.
My Ratings: Average/2½
—Jonathan Creasman, age 16
Negative—When it comes to movies, I seek a plot of some sort, and a good time. When it comes to comic books, I seek a plot and good art. When it comes to crossovers of the two, I expect cinematography similar to the style of the comic original, and a plot that one can get the most out of the first time through. Elektra fails to deliver on all ends of the spectrum. Though no doubt some serious money was spent on special effects, I would rather have had average effects and a decent script. When it comes to movie quality, this is a 3/10 in my book. Now… on to the religious standpoint. Nothing Christian or anti-Christian in this movie. It has violence, some foul language, and while Elektra’s costume is somewhat questionable, it obviously isn’t that bad since the movie got a PG-13 rating. I couldn’t recommend this movie to a person who judges movies solely on religious content, but I couldn’t say anything against it either. My advice is you stay away from this, not because of objectionable content, but because of some of the most abysmal movie making I have ever seen.
My Ratings: Average/1½
—Dave Vodolazkiy, age 16
Neutral—…it was just flat out-plain and simple-boring waste of my time and money movie that didn’t even get a good thing said about it from film critics. It had an okay plot… but I’d rather waste my money on McDonalds than this. Don’t go see this.
My Ratings: Better than Average/2
—Ben, age 13
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie!! From the very beginning, I was “sitting on the edge of my seat” wondering what was going to happen next!! There was foul language,a couple of “sh,” “d,” 1 “G.D,” “h,” and a couple of “s.o.b”s. There was also a female to female kiss that was pretty disgusting! Apart from these things, this movie was really great!!
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—P-MO, age 17
Positive—I loved this movie! I saw this with my mom and as spirit filled christians we didn’t find anything objectionable enough to walk out of the movie. There was though some violent images, language, and two girls kissed which was really disgusting but otherwise I thought it was great. I would recommend it to an older teens.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Rachael, age 16
Movie Critics
…the only difference between Garner’s new movie and her four-year-old television show is that the movie is boring…
—Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
…plays like a collision between leftover bits and pieces of Marvel superhero stories…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…a spectacular comic book heroine movie that quickly turns into a spectacular dud…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…forgettable plot… A muted affair in which our heroine, a marvelously dark, libidinous killer-for-hire in the original Frank Miller conception, is rendered, yet again, unforgivably wooden and witless onscreen…
—Kim Morgan, L.A. Weekly
…an assassin with precisely one facial expression… a blank, moist-eyed stare… dopey and unexciting…
—Randy Cordova, The Arizona Republic
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