I'm not one to write reviews. I'm lazy.. I watch a show, a movie, and I move on. But this show has forced me to put my laziness aside and pass comment, because it is not rated highly enough. I recently saw a film that hurt me down to my bones because it was so terrible, and I had my critique formulated but couldn't be bothered to post it because I didn't care about it. I CARE about The Punisher, and I think every adult fan of this kind of entertainment should watch it.
The Punisher is everything that a vigilante show should be. To be clear, I love all of the Marvel/Netflix shows (well.. Iron Fist was a little irritating, but still fun), and I'm a big fan of the MCU even though I was never a comic book fan. I've kept up to date with Arrow and The Flash (I couldn't quite come at Legends of Tomorrow; little too ridiculous), but all of these vigilante superhero shows just leave you feeling like something is missing. You love the characters, you love their motives, but you just can't quite understand why they're so unbelievably/disgustingly pure. "Oh no, that naughty man has killed so many people; we had better make sure we lock him up, or that the proper authorities get a hold of him!"
Some shows have done better than others; hopefully anyone reading this won't be too behind, but Arrow started off killing people, and does still from time to time.. Daredevil and Jessica Jones have got their hands dirty once or twice.. but Luke Cage was upsettingly purist and Iron Fist had nothing better to do than declare "I'm the immortal Iron Fist" and expect bad guys to submit themselves to the proper authorities.
None of the heroes in any Marvel films used to kill people... or if they did it was very few and far between, no matter how much it was deserved. Then Deadpool came along and showed the world that adults want to see action from the characters they love that actually aligns with their own emotions. Some ****head destroys your life, and gives you super powers? Of course you kill them. For the greater good, of course. Of course. I love Deadpool, for the same reason that I love The Punisher.. but the Deadpool films are a comedy, poking fun at the whole concept of heroism through gratuitous violence.
The Punisher takes a different path. We all felt Frank Castle's pain in Daredevil season 2. But The Punisher season 1 takes it to another level. We feel so much for Frank and the pain he's endured. We hate his enemies with a fiery passion that cannot be satiated by the normal justice system. These people have done unspeakable things, and if they are arrested they will find a way around it, or they will continue to work their evil from within the corrections system. There's only one answer: they must die. And Frank doesn't revel in the violence; he doesnt get some sick pleasure from making them bleed - he just gets rid of them. It's what we all secretly hope would happen to people who we KNOW cannot be corrected, and who are just going to waste oxygen and taxes and whatever else by being "rehabilitated".
I'm not some pro-execution/violence petitioner who thinks that this show is how the world should work. But, for a fantasy television series about a vigilante taking justice into their own hands, this is what makes SENSE.
And it's not just that. The characters, their motives, and the performances are BELIEVABLE. I've never been a fan of Jon Bernthal. I couldn't wait for him to be killed off in The Walking Dead. But I LOVE him as the Punisher. He looks the part, he plays the part, and I sure as hell don't want to cross him. Sure, there's a bit of comic relief in Sam Stein, and the Karen Page addition is clearly just to ensure that it ties in to the other series (even though I actually love Frank's dedication to Karen).. but the primary characters are AWESOME. Madani is the necessary level-headed law enforcer, but she plays into the grey area perfectly. Billy Russo was obviously going to be a significant villain; he was just too smooth from the start. But the way Ben Barnes plays it, milking the self-important, 'pretty boy' angle from start to finish, just works so well. Curtis is the unshakeable social worker cum brother-in-arms and his unwavering dedication to helping any other vets despite his own (arguably worse than most's) demons gives the heartwarming aspect. Daniel Webber as Lewis Wilson is straight-up epic. His stressful pout through pretty much every scene he's in doesn't make him feel one-dimensional; it makes us feel as tense as he seems to feel.
The climax of the show is the best of all. Frank realising that he can force Russo to suffer more for his crimes by ****ing his face up than by killing him is the ultimate fist-pump for anyone who has become engrossed with the story. Obviously that just sets us up for the next season, but THANK GOD for that!
Everything about this show is awesome, gritty and REAL. In summary; there are no superheroes; but if there were, the Punisher is what they would be. People who have the ability to outlive and outstand opposition, and to do what the law is not able to do: end the dangers that the law can't, without concern for themselves.
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