As the second season is now available to stream on Netflix, I thought it would be an ideal time to jump into Marvel’s The Punisher. Starring Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, The Punisher himself, Season 1 was released all at once back in 2017. And it has since been on my queue yet never managing to be the next thing to watch. But today that has changed and I will be looking at the pilot, 3AM.
Let’s start of with the good. Jon Bernthal is excellent in the role of frank Castle. Bringing aspects of hatred, fear and PTSD in a single role is a hard enough ask of any actor, let alone sustain it as the lead of a tv show. But Bernthal is able to do exactly that. Always making sure to engross you in whatever Castle is doing, and giving enough subtext in his performance for those new to the character to understand his origins. And on that topic, I appreciate that we didn’t get a origin story for The Punisher as it has been done to death before. The fight scenes, though lacking in any substantial length, are choreographed in a way that suits the fighting style of Castle, drawing in on his past as The Punisher and a marine. The camera shots add to this, using a quick succession of jump cuts from different angles to display the brutality on show.
Unfortunately, the pilot limps to its end in every other aspect. The plot of the episode feels largely inconsequential and relies heavily on chance to move it forward. And any momentum gained from the main plot is then lost on a boring and dragged out b-plot focused on Agent Mandani and her search for Frank, presumed dead. Neither actress or writer gives enough of a reason for the audience to care. It then isn’t helped by both Mandani and her partner Sam Stein both being extremely one note characters and performances. In saying that however, there is a glimmer of skill in their scenes so going forward, I hope that it is allowed to be used.
Finally, the ending is mired by a messy set up of both a, presumably, main antagonist and fugitive based plot thread in the next episodes. This isn’t done in any manner that actually excites the viewer into the next episode, which is unfortunate as there is clearly potential. As a rule, I give tv shows 3 episodes before I call it “quits”, so please let the next two raise the already low bar. A middling, yet okay 5/10.
The Punisher is avalible in its entirety for streaming on Netflix.