21st Nov2017

‘The Punisher – Season One’ Review (Netflix)

by Paul Metcalf


After The Punisher was introduced into the secons season of Daredevil, the anticipation that he would get his own show was high. Now that it is here though, does it live up to our hopes? The answer for the most part is yes, but read on to find out why Marvel fall into a familiar trap with their new Netflix show…

When Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) tries to leave The Punisher behind him, it doesn’t take long before he has to take action against wrongdoers. When this catches the attention of Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) Castle finds himself once again hunting down the people behind his family’s death, as it seems his vengeance was ended a little prematurely.

While I may say some negative things about the show in this review, it is important to point out that Jon Bernthal is perfect as Frank Castle. He can convey the emotions needed for Frank Castle, while being able to live up to the action hero needed to bring The Punisher to the surface. The same can be said about Ebon Moss-Bachrach too, and the rest of the cast when it comes to the characters they play. The problem comes in the way the story is told.

The Punisher is made up of thirteen episodes, which is fairly standard for Marvel’s shows on Netflix. For people who have seen these shows though they will know that there really isn’t enough story to fill them. This can be especially seen in Luke Cage where it could have done with several episodes being culled to make it a more effective experience.

The problem with The Punisher is exactly the same. We have a good set up, there are a good number of side stories for many of the characters, but the truth is, there just doesn’t need to be that many episodes. It is understandable why The Punisher is a slow burning show, it deals with the build-up of emotions until they explode in violence, but it just doesn’t have the content to fill the episodes it has been given.

On the plus side of things, The Punisher is one of the stronger of the Marvel shows. Completely removed from the world of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, The Punisher is a lone survivor who trusts few people. This is why the betrayals that he faces hit him all the harder. The only thing that really grounds it as a Marvel show is the inclusion of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) whose character really flourishes in the show when she is away from the superhero drama.

When it comes to the bad guys in The Punisher, what makes the show different is that it never hides the fact that Frank is a bad guy. This is part of his torment, that the bad things he did led to the death of his family. Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) and Rawlins (Paul Schulze) work well as his main opponents because they are a reminder of who he used to be. Billy Russo is even more important of course because of who he will become. No spoilers here, read the comics to find out.

One warning that should be heeded is that there is plenty of gore in The Punisher, though this is to be expected. What is noticeable though is that the gore is taken to the extreme, almost in a cartoonish way as we see intestines hanging out, blood flying everywhere and lots of other body parts being broken, crushed, or dislodged.

The Punisher is well worth watching, and as expected is one of the best Marvel shows to date. Jon Bernthal truly brings the character alive, and puts in a performance that really should win awards. One thing that the show will do is make you want to watch Punisher: War Zone again (or for the first time) because yes, in story terms there is more than a passing resemblance between the show and that movie.

**** 4/5

The Punisher is available on Netflix now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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