Directed by Rob Bowman, starring Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yun Lee and Terence Stamp.

There were only two reasons to watch the woeful big screen debut of Marvel Comics hero Daredevil two years ago. The first was Colin Farrell's hilarious mugging masterclass as knife- throwing killer Bullseye and the second was Jennifer Garner who, as the good/bad assassin Elektra, also upstaged star Ben Affleck in every scene. The closing credits had barely rolled when talk turned to Garner returning as Elektra in her own movie and now here it is: better than 'Daredevil' but still a disappointment.

Paid $2m up front for her latest contract killing, Elektra ("a unique warrior, a lost soul, a motherless daughter") heads to a deluxe home in a remote mountain region to await news of her mission. While there, the aloof killer-for-hire is befriended by new neighbours Mark and Abby Miller (Visnjic and Prout), and there are some tentative signs of romance with teenager Abby's Dad. Then details arrive about Elektra's assignment and, surprise, surprise the hospitable father and daughter are her targets. Unable to see the job through, Elektra decides to protect the duo, a choice which will awake painful memories from her past and bring her into contact once again with her former teacher Stick (Stamp) and evil organisation The Hand.

Garner never looks anything less than the part and Bowman deserves credit for replacing all-out action with some drama, but 'Elektra' feels rushed. The main problem is in trying to balance a complex character within the demands of a blockbuster movie and, of course, it's the later that wins out. For this film to really work, there needed to be more scenes involving Elektra's past, while Stamp's time onscreen as the blind master is all too short. And with none of the setpieces or standoffs ranking as spectacular, Bowman is left to end the film on a fairly routine note.

Like its star, 'Elektra' looks great, but this film's only legacy will be to do wonders for the sale of red trousers worldwide.

Harry Guerin