By JOEL TUGAINEYO
I’m ashamed to admit that I had no faith in this show going in.
My superhero fatigue was at an all-time high. Iron Fist & The Defenders had been absolute shit.
At its very best, I expected this show to be competent at going through the motions; another forgettable adaptation of a popular property to add to the landfill of Hollywood cinema.
Turns out, I was wrong…DEAD WRONG!
Instead of an endless barrage of action scenes with the illusion of a story that actually means something – *cough*theimmortalironfistdefenderofkun’lun*cough* – what we get here is a super-grounded and thoughtful story about a wounded man waging a one-man war to get justice for the people he loved.
Jon Bernthal earns his pedigree as a leading man here. He breautifully straddles the line between sympathetic man mourning the loss of his family & unstoppable murdering machine. Regardless of where you lie on the ethics of Frank’s methods, you like him and you want him to make it out in one piece.
While Frank is great, the real stars of the show are all the amazingly written side characters: Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Madani (Amber Rose), Stein (Michael Nathanson), Billy Russo (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame) and so many others…thankfully, Karen Page’s appearances are kept to a minimum.
The casting in this is phenomenal. Every one of these characters is so well-developed & distinct that their appearance alone tells you a lot about who they are and what they’ve been through. The characters feel lived-in…they’re real everyday people thrust into a whirlwind of shit and you feel for everyone of them.
Micro was my favorite character in the show. He’s not just relegated to comedic relief the way Foggy is. Micro actually has a lot at stake in the story. He has his own personal tragedy to deal with too. He’s a very easy guy to root for.
Ben Barnes as Billy Russo was a fantastic choice. If you’re into comic books and no what’s in store for the character, it cam be really entertaining to watch this pretty boy saunter around like he’s going to make it out of all this without a “scratch”! Tee-hee-hee!?
And now for the important stuff: THE VIOLENCE! The real reason you come to watch a show called: THE PUNISHER!
OMFG is it good!
The action is brutal, brief, and shot for maximum impact! Frank is a ruthless, methodical killing machine with enough brains to match his fearsome brawn. In fact, the biggest delights in every action setpiece come from watching Frank systematically outwit and obliterate his enemies…oh, and when that music ramps up, you will lose your shit! FRANK IS BADASS, EVERY SINGLE TIME!
Doesn’t mean he doesn’t take a shit-ton of hits though! He’s not invincible. There is real danger in every altercation he is in. The baddies are well-trained and usally better equipped than he is…which makes it all the more satisfying when he takes them all down.
In the midst of all that badassery, the show still finds time to dive into big themes like: PTSD in war veterans; Domestic Terrorism; Gun Control; The Criminal Justice System vs. Vigilantism; War Crimes; Abuse of Power in Covert Government Agencies…the show effortlessly weaves these ideas into the tapestry of its plot.
Punisher is undoubtedly my favorite of all the Marvel Netflix shows. It is airtight in its composition and delivers on all its promises in a jaw-dropping way.
I can’t recommend it enough.
FINAL RATING: 9.5/10