After this debacle, ‘Elektra’ is going to need an alias

“Elektra”20th Century FoxDirected by Rob BowmanScreenplay by Zak PennStarring Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, and Terence StampRated PG-13/106 minReleased Jan. 14, 2005

Two out of five stars

There’s a scene in director Rob Bowman’s “Elektra” that perfectly captures the tone of the rest of the movie. The hip-swaying assassin last seen in 2003’s “Daredevil,” and played again by Jennifer Garner, suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. She meticulously arranges her toiletries to a rocking soundtrack of Bruckheimian proportions. Toothbrush, comb, vanity mirror-all neatly aligned and not a moment to spare!

Here it is, folks: the first action scene set entirely on a bathroom counter.

The whole movie is so incredibly silly, yet so incredibly serious, you can’t help but imagine what Tom Servo would have to say about it.

“Elektra” opens with one those obligatory action scenes that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie: Elektra kicks and vaults and poses like a runway model through hordes of heavily armed guards who are/were “our best men,” so says one bad guy.

“It won’t matter,” is the inescapable response. “They say she whispers in your ear before she kills you.” And so she does in the curtain raiser, but then never again, as far as I can recall. It sounds like someone needs to whisper ideas about story structure to the filmmakers.

Elektra was killed at the end of “Daredevil” (a movie in which Garner displays infinitely more charisma), but here we learn she was brought back to life by Stick (Terence Stamp), one of those mystical blind masters of the martial-arts who utters saintly platitudes to his students by day, and hustles young men at pool by-well, he does that by day, too. He’s a busy guy.

Elektra and Stick had a falling-out many years ago, and now she works freelance, excising the demons from her past by killing other people’s demons (her parents were murdered when she was very young by someone who is most certainly not the main villain).

McCabe (Colin Cunningham), Elektra’s agent, delivers information about her next job. Side note: Where does an assassin go to hire an agent, anyway?

Her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to track down a man (Goran Visnjic) and his precocious daughter (Kirsten Prout) and snuff ’em out. But wouldn’t you know it, she grows attached, and instead finds herself protecting them from a shady group of rival assassins known as The Hand.

That leads to a lot of giggles every time someone says, “We’re being chased by The Hand!”

They want the little girl for their own-apparently, she’s quite the fighter herself and, oh, I don’t know, they want to mold her into something evil. It’s never very clear.

The Hand is a rag-tag bunch of colorful killers. We meet them during one of those slow-mo shots in which they walk right at us in a horizontal line. “What a group of bad-asses these guys are! Eh? Eh?” say the filmmakers, nudging us in the ribs. More like, “When did the circus get into town?”

They have names that describe their most obvious powers or features: Stone, Typhoid, Tattoo, Fry Cook (OK, so I made up that last one). And when they die, they explode in a puffy, green cloud of bad special effects-“with the sweet smell of pine!” Tom Servo would say.

“Elektra” is very bad, yes, but you can’t altogether loathe a movie that has a tortured female assassin who still remembers to put on perfume in the morning. Good guys flee death by running into a hedge-maze. And one bad guy is decent enough to stop right beside the same tree our hero just climbed so she can attack from above. What a good sport.

Oh, wait. I forgot. Elektra has some kind of special power that allows her to “see” into the future. Maybe she knew that bad guy was going to stop by that tree.

However, if Jennifer Garner had any sort of foresight, then she would’ve stayed far, far away from this movie.

[email protected]