“The Punisher” starring Jon Bernthal is one of the latest Marvel Netflix TV shows to hit our screens; their sixth collaboration. Marvel and Netflix have been successful with their street level cinematic universe based on their unsung heroes. Their shows are created by being faithful to their comic book historical characters and adapting their stories so that they are accessible to newcomers. They appear to have found a great recipe for success. Will this series measure up to their standard and to the other incarnations of “The Punisher”? Let us find out….
The series is set after the events of Season 2 of “Daredevil”, where “The Punisher” Frank Castle, a US Marine, engages in a one-man war against those who brutally killed his family in a crossfire of a botched drug deal. He is presumed dead after his disappearance at the end of Season 2 of “Daredevil”. Frank attempts to go on with his life but is pulled back in when he suspects that his family’s death might not be a random act, but more of a government conspiracy tied to his past in Afghanistan.
When we think of the Punisher, we think of an ex-Marine on a rampage. We get a glimpse of this character during the first few minutes of the series, but then it feels more like a government / military conspiracy thriller. Despite this, the Punisher proves to be true to its roots by having some of the most violent fighting scenes I have scene in awhile, with plenty of onslaught of blood and gore especially at the end of the season. See for yourself this final fight scene with Billy Russo. Please be advised this is quite violent and bloody:
As explained at the end of the clip above, there is a purpose behind the slaughter, which makes this series different than the other takes on The Punisher. In addition to the violence, the series also excels in dealing with soldiers suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how each soldier deals with it differently. The fact that each soldier is different gives the series some authenticity. In retrospect, the series is basically a character study on how being exposed to extreme violence can affect the human psyche and does a great job exploring this.
This series proved that Jon Bernthal can headline his own series. Playing the Punisher is no easy task, and Jon makes it look easy. He demonstrated that he can cover a wide range of emotions. When he is about to kill one of his enemies, he could be the scariest and ruthless person you can come across. However, at the same time, such as when he is alone with Karen Page, you see a more compassionate and caring character, a completely different person.
The supporting cast also delivered great performances. Ebon Moss-BackRach (Girls) who plays David Liberman (aka Micro) is great. His relationship with Castle is what keeps the series together. This duo was great every time they shared the screen. Other cast members worth mentioning are Jason R. Moore (Law & Order: SVU) who plays Curtis who is Castle’s calming voice and acts as a wise sage. He is a valuable character and in my opinion was underused. Another character worth mentioning is Ben Barnes (Westworld) who plays Billy Russo. Billy is also battling his own demons he developed from the war. The development of Billy’s story is slow going but is well worth the wait.
A mention has to go out Daniel Weber (11.22.63) who delivered an outstanding performance. His portrayal of Lewis Welcott is dynamic. The character struggles with his life outside of the military. It could be difficult to watch however it is a reminder that the issues tackled in the Punisher are very real.
In addition, the series also features Daredevil actress Deborah Ann Woll, reprising her role as Karen Page. Her character brings out the softer side of Castle.
If you like an action-packed series with a dose of reality, then this is the series for you. The violence could get gruesome, but it is for a purpose. The portrayal of the soldiers dealing with PSTD is quite remarkable. Some people would have liked the series to tackle on gun control, but I think with a character like the Punisher, that would be hard to achieve. In my opinion, the Government conspiracy theory was a little far fetched, but was a good addition to the story line. A good series to escape and root for the good guys. Another success for the Marvel Netflix partnership.
I give it a 8 out 10.
For those who are curious on the previous adaptations of The Punisher, you can find them here at our
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