Synopsis: 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.
Review: My first memories of The Punisher are from around about 1986 when I got the 1st issue of one of the comic books. Turns out that it was a reprint of the original story that introduced him. From that point I was hooked enough to follow the character in the various movie incarnations through to this new Netflix series and although I have a soft spot for the Thomas Jane movie from 2004 and get nostalgic for the very corny 1989 version with Dolph Lundgren. I can honestly say that this Netflix incarnation of the character is the ultimate when it comes to doing justice to the comic book.
A big reason for that is the casting of Jon Bernthal who has already proved to be the living embodiment of The Punisher during his stint in Daredevil’s second season, but he gets to give us so much more in this series than he did in that show.
The story picks up several months after the events seen in Daredevil. It opens with a few quick scenes of Punisher cleaning up what was left of the mafia gang that killed his family and then starts the story, which begins with Frank Castle trying to re-assimilate into society by working on a building site. Of course, things only begin to go downhill from there when Frank struggles to fit in and falls into his old vigilante patterns once the foreman and a few of the other workers rip off a local gang and try to kill a kid that Castle feels duty bound to protect.
Castles return to his vigilante ways soon gets the attention of former government agent and hacker David Lieberman who recruits Castle to help him bring down a conspiracy, which runs deep through various government departments including the CIA and Homeland. Lieberman gets Castle to help when he reveals that some of it connects in with some of the Black Ops he took part in when he was still with the Marines.
Running parallel to all of this is Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) investigation, which implicates Frank Castle’s Black Ops unit with the murder of a Police Officer that was helping with an investigation she was running when she was stationed in Kandahar.
The Punisher is a show that’s worth viewing but may be difficult viewing with the level of violence concerned, which is consistent with the comic book incarnation. The series is both a story of revenge and redemption. The discussion of guns and violence that runs throughout the season is never gratuitous and always intelligent.
The series has some compelling villains. Ben Barnes is manipulative and deadly as Frank Castles former Marine buddy Billy Russo. His betrayal of Frank cuts deep and builds to one hell of a showdown at the end of the season while Paul Schulze is even colder and dangerous as the calculating Rawlins who wants Castle dead.
If your a fan of the Punisher comics and enjoyed what Bernthal did in Daredevil. Then you’ll most likely enjoy this stand-alone series. It ends with Frank pretty much hanging up his guns and trying to make a go of things by talking stuff through with other veterans, but Castle chooses to let Russo live and face his own disfigured reflection every day as punishment for his crimes. So if Netflix does the second series there is at least one person still alive that Castle can go after. Failing that. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Frank Castle again in Daredevil season 3 or one of the other Netflix shows. The Punisher always tends to crossover from other Marvel Universe.
Although the series had a slow start it made good in the end and there were some fantastic acting performances and brilliant characters throughout the run.
- Incidental Music9.5