The Punisher Review: A Violent, Thought-Provoking Hit

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The Punisher is a show worth binge watching.

The latest entry into the Marvel TV universe comes in the form of a character that was first introduced in Daredevil, and surprisingly, it's a show that's up there as one of the best in the franchise. 

Jon Bernthal is The Punisher

Jon Bernthal plays the role of the multi-layered Frank Castle and his performance is the best of his career. Frank is a man on a mission to take down all of the people who were behind the death of his wife and children. From the first flashback of their deaths, it's clear this is not something Frank is going to get over quickly. 

He's damaged, and the story is very much about how he reacts to the situations he in which he finds himself in his changed world. He becomes accustomed to being a one-person team and struggles to let anyone in. 

All of the loss results in attachment issues, and his performance continues to shine as the character struggles to come to terms with trusting people again. 

Bernthal is well-known for his role as Shane on The Walking Dead, and he could have very easily played the same character on The Punisher, but there is so much more to Frank. We barely begin to know him by the end of The Punisher Season 1. 

While first impressions of The Punisher may be that it's another overtly violent show taking up residence on the small screen, it is so much more than that. The show has a lot of heart as we get to see how Frank becomes the man he is, and to what lengths he's willing to go to to get revenge. 

Punisher screengrab

If you're not a fan of the other shows in the Netflix Marvel franchise, The Punisher could be the show for you.

The bulk of the story hinges on Frank's mission for vengeance as he is introduced to a more significant network of people who may or may not be making the streets safe, and you don't need to have seen the other series to feel acquainted with his world.

The storytelling is another strong point. Showrunner Steve Lightfoot keeps the show relatively grounded throughout, and it plays more like a slow burn, which fits the tone of the show very well. 

Granted, there are high-octane action sequences, but the stories behind all of the characters are what keeps the show engaging through the entire 13 episodes. Thirteen episodes may seem like a lofty number, but it was just right. 

A New Lair

The plot was well-paced. The striking visuals, acting, and the solid script keeps your attention firmly on the characters and their journeys, and that's about all you can ask for from a series that's made for binge watching. 

Micro is a bit of a hit or miss character. He is played wonderfully by Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls), but his storyline seems like it's just there to contrast with that of Frank's. The character is a bit too cocky, but when he's on the field, he is not all that compelling. 

He seems to have a superiority complex, and it's difficult to connect with such characters. He may have the brains, but he needs more of a personality to make much of an impact. 

Dinah Madani, however, is one of the best supporting characters of the whole Netflix Marvel franchise. Amber Rose Revah turns in a convincing performance. The character was not present in the comics, so it's fun to discover what she's all about and why she crosses paths with Frank. 

Micro

Dinah is a character who strives for good things to happen. She knows she is under a microscope to get results and does not want to disappoint her peers. 

The Punisher is one of the most surprising shows of the year. It could have launched as another Iron Fist, but it's up there with Daredevil and Jessica Jones as one of the better shows in the franchise. 

It's different enough to distinguish it from the other shows, and that's what feels so fresh about it. We've met Frank before, but not quite like this. The whole series builds towards a conclusion that was both shocking, and visually striking. 

It is not the type of show to watch if you're squeamish. It's violent, heartbreaking, and disquieting. Netflix would be wise to snap up the show for additional seasons because there are some exciting directions the show could take in further seasons. 

While the Marvel cinematic universe is going in a more comedic approach with its content, The Punisher represents a dark depiction of a story from the comics that was already dark to start. 

The Punisher debuts globally on Netflix on November 17. 

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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