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Netflix’s The Punisher-Review

“Not all super heroes wear capes” and “not all Super heroes are good guys”. These are two quotes that would accurately describe the Punisher. Jon Berenthal does the best job so far in playing The Punisher. The good guy forced to deal with bad guys the martial way, The Punisher has long been Marvel’s Charles Bronson. The curse that haunts Frank Castle is paramount to another quote “Nice guys finish last”. Good thing Frank’s not a nice guy. Tortured by the murder of his family, Frank is on a vendetta to avenge their deaths.  That’s where our story begins.

Marvel’s The Punisher-Bloody Punisher

Frank Castle is on a rampage at the start of Netflix’s 13 episode Punisher series. He’s settled the score with the people responsible for the murder of his family. He can finally put his guns to rest. The first scenes of the Punisher are graphic glimpses into the tone of the rest of the show. This is some of the most graphic content that Netflix has produced. If you are squeamish with blood and gore, you might want to skip The Punisher. The Punisher comic book series has always been one of the more violent of Marvel’s comic books. The show is right on track with the level of violence it portrays.

Frank has settled down into a normal life as a construction worker by the name of Pete Castiliogne. He’s a hard working man who doesn’t speak much. Some of the guys on the worksite go so far as to tease him

Marvel’s The Punisher-Hipster Frank

and call him “Gimp” and “Retard”.  Frank wants to be left alone. He skulks in the hallways of support groups for Post Traumatic stress disorder. He’s content in his misery and is tired of getting close to people, because they all seem to die. Frank is having a hard time dealing with the quiet of non-rampage life. He is being haunted nightly by dreams of his family. The series focuses heavily on the way we treat military personnel and PTSD. How little post-war care these soldiers get for re-introducing them back into civilian life. This has been a long time problem and unfortunate side effect of a nation who focuses so much of its resources on war. We neglect the collateral damage war leaves on the soldiers in its wake.

Frank is trying to maintain anonymity but has to protect the one person on his worksite who showed him

Marvel’s The Punisher-Billy Russo

kindness. This kid was so desperate to fit in at work he got caught up with some bullies. After a botched card game robbery of a group of mobsters the young kid accidentally drops his ID. Knowing that the mob will come looking for him the bullies decide to cut ties and bury him in cement. Frank can’t let that happen and steps in, classic Punisher style. Leaving no loose ends, Frank takes care of the card game mobsters too. Frank exposes himself as still being alive to some watchful eyes. Frank isn’t the only “ghost” around as his past comes back to haunt him. A once brother in arms, Billy Russo, Ben Barnes, has lost his way and has become a gun for hire. Russo is the head of a private mercenary army Anvil. Anvil, recruits former military personnel who are having a hard time adjusting to civilian life.

Marvel’s The Punisher-Lovely Karen Page

Frank gets the help of Daredevil’s Karen Page, Deborah Ann Woll, who helps him with uncovering who is pulling the strings and calling the shots at Anvil. Her moments in the series are brief but leaves the door open for more potential cross overs into different Marvel/Netflix series.

A savvy national security agent, Dinah Madani, Amber Rose Revah, is tasked with tracking terrorist activity. Billy Russo is the picture of straight laced corporate guns for hire and Madani falls for his charms.  She’s also interested in his connection with Frank Castle. Madani gets a video of a man being tortured by what appears to be members of our military. This puts her on the path the will eventually lead her to Castle and some other unexpected participants.

Marvel’s The Punisher-Badass Dinah Madani

The plot of the series was a little fuzzy. It took almost 3 episodes to get down to the issue at hand and 6 episodes to get the story really moving. 13 episodes seemed like a lot for this particular Punisher story line. I think this could have been wrapped up nicely in 9-10 episodes, maybe even 7-8. They focused a lot on the PTSD element with very little payoff. The tone of the show was dark and very graphic, but not over the top. Great make-up effects. The fight sequences were brutal, well choreographed, and filmed. The music and sound editing was fantastic, simple, and not overly stylized. Nod to Tom Waits in one of the fight scenes! Some great camera angles and clever shots. The use of drone work was fitting.

Overall, the series lacked a real bad guy. The Punisher wasn’t fighting anyone but the memories of his past, some bad PTSD, and bureaucrats who are as intimidating as a high school principal. The Punisher historically only has one real arch-enemy,Jigsaw, which I was happy to see created on this show. Not so happy that he came into the picture in the closing minutes of the season. I don’t know how much longevity the Punisher will have as a stand alone series but wouldn’t mind seeing this whole plot line folded into the Defenders or a possible team up show with Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, not Iron Fist. Iron Fist should just go away.