Ever since Frank Castle was announced to be on Marvel’s Daredevil‘s second season I was excited. Marvel had established that their Netflix lineup was the gritty, more grounded in the real world side of the television product. And it worked too, especially with the character choices.
Now, once Jon Bernthal was cast as Frank Castle/ Punisher he got nothing but rave reviews and high fives from the media and contemporaries. Time came for the public to get a glimpse of The Punisher in action and we were not disappointed in the least. Bernthal embodied the wild eyed, revenge obsessed, stone coldness of The Punisher, the criminal murdering anti-hero. He was absolutely captivating to the point that he owned every scene he was featured in. The performance left you wanting more and more we received.
This series picks up after Frank is presumed dead following the events that unfolded in Daredevil’s second season. He spends his days avoiding contact with human contact as much as possible and working at a construction site where he can focus his rage on demolition work. Periodically, visiting an old friend from the military (Curtis Doyle) that seems to be the only one who knows who he is and that he’s alive. Of course, This can’t last too long (as that would make for an extremely boring series). Frank soon finds himself knee deep in dead bodies, with a new partner in David Lieberman/ Micro, and in over his head in a government conspiracy.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if The Punisher could make an all that interesting series. I knew that Bernthal had something with his portrayal of Castle but, a prolonged murder-fest wasn’t going to stay interesting for long. Luckily, the writers and Bernthal are able to add layers to a character that if not handled properly, can be overtly one dimensional. We see glimpses of the man that was before the brutal killings of his family. It is, frankly, a welcome surprise in the character’s development. Micro also is an interesting character that has a similar issue with his family being taken away from him. This parallel in backstory helps him connect with Frank in a love/hate type of relationship. The rest of the cast is decent in the limited time they get on screen but, Agent Madani shines brightest. She is obsessed with a case that lead to the death of her own friend and this leads to her crossing paths with Punisher. Amber Rose Revah plays Dinah Madani in a way that displays her characters flaws but, also shows her strengths. She’s hard with a soft side. Sure of herself yet, lost in the confusion of her situation. This contradiction is sure to produce more compelling moments through the remainder of the series.I also like the way they handled the issue of PTSD and how it affects the young men and women of our armed forces. It’s a touchy subject and must be handled carefully and I believe that the writers, director,and cast handled it well.
The action is there but not as plentiful as most would assume. That’s not so much a bad thing though as it allows for the great character development that I saw. The hand to hand portions are good but not great. Gritty and violent, up close and personal they made me wince a time or two. The gunfights are full of exploding heads and almost infinite shell casings. Seeing the heroes take their fair share of bullet wounds and left hooks make the fights seem all the more satisfying. This detail makes the human spirit in Frank give him a superhuman quality.
With this series I had a great deal of anticipation going in. I have nothing but unwavering confidence that this show will deliver on all levels. With grand performances, beautifully grimy action, and a compelling story I simply can’t wait to get to the conclusion of this one.