But what makes The Punisher totally stand out to me was that if there were no logos or Marvel credits, you would think this was just an excellent Netflix series vigilante piece about veterans trying to find their place in the civilian world. Unless I missed it, I did not catch one single reference to rest of the MCU, this was a completely stand-alone story.
That was refreshing and surprising.
This is a daring show because The Punisher is Marvel's boldest and dirtiest vigilante character who looks to exterminate his enemies with guns. He was Marvel's Dirty Harry. He makes no apologies while he uses guns and extreme violence to resolve issues with the criminal element. The kind of element that will only come back if left alive.
With that said, Marvel's The Punisher on Netflix takes this non-stop killing machine character and instead of replicating that formula, created one hell of a story that makes like a 13-hour government conspiracy movie, feeling like a good mob flick. But it was more story than shooting.
After the murder of his family, Marine veteran Frank Castle became a vigilante known as "The Punisher" with only one goal in mind - to avenge them. With his revenge now complete, Frank's war-time past comes back to haunt him.
The series follows Frank, after laying low for a period of time after events in Daredevil, he finds himself getting drawn back into the realm of hunting down the bad guys when someone contacts him about potentially finding the men who were truly behind the murder of his family.
Throughout the entire series we are treated to just how much his family meant to him, but not in an overdone fashion. But it is obvious he has not gotten past it yet.
But then someone out of the blue contacts Frank at his favorite restaurant, despite Franks every effort to stay off the grid. Frank hunts this man down, thus meeting Micro (Moss-Bachrach), who, through a tough get-to-know-you session, becomes Frank's partner, his tech assistant, if you will. A man who was also torn from his family due to outside influences.
The two of them then go after the people behind a conspiracy that involved splitting up Micro from his own family and responsible for Frank's dead family. But this is only learned of during his pursuit of the other issues, thus, guaranteeing his seeing it through to the end. The very end.
Along the way, Micro and Karen Page (Woll) seem to have an effect on him and he starts trying not to kill every bad guy there is. He admits it's much harder.
The rest of the series is one well written, methodical set of episodes chronicling the cat and mouse game between Frank, the villains, and different layers of law enforcement.
Castle is not necessarily vengeance incarnate, but rather, a tormented man by the loss of his family, one who may actual welcome death so he can join his loved ones. In the meantime, despite his solo-mode, he ends up always doing the right thing.
There are no weak cast members in this show. Bernthal pulls off Frank Castle better than anyone else who has ever played the character. He brought the character right off the pages of the comics to the small screen. The show gave the character more depth and reasoning to such a degree that everything he did made sense, from his tragic flaws of not letting go of his wife's memory, to needing to rid the world of the evil that not only represented this conspiracy, but the evil that had a hand in killing his wife and kids.
Bernthal was born for this part. Period. He was near flawless in his delivery of Frank Castle with his street thug looks and raspy, grunty voice. There was even one close-quarters combat and Castle was channeling John Wick for a while. It was a wonderful moment.
The show itself, despite the potential for gore, more or less dodged the worse of it throughout the series. Unlike most Marvel shows on Netflix, they dodged the steamy sex scenes in the beginning of the series but made up for it in the latter half of the show with a few moments.
All in all, despite others saying the show was too long, I looked at it as 13 episodes to enjoy something so fresh and engaging.
There was one curious thing I noted from the show and that was how people died. For as grungy and dark this show was, when a lot of people got shot, they would throw their arms up in the air and then fall dead. It wasn't that realistic, but the moments were so quick that they didn't stand out or were too distracting. But still...
Yea, they hit it out of the park with The Punisher, and they ended this first season on such a... real note of Castle's awareness of himself, that I totally look forward to the second season. This was such a great show that I even hesitate to consider it a popcorn type entertainment.
On IMDb it got a 9.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes, 67%.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =