BLOOD, GUTS, & HICCUPS [THE PUNISHER REVIEW]
This show is the perfect source of blood, gore, and storytelling. It is not for the faint of heart and if you have a queasy stomach I recommend getting over it because this show deserves the attention of any Marvel fan looking to fill up on some great content before Black Panther drops in February. The Punisher holds no punches as it covers everything from PTSD to teamwork and military tactics. Load the choppers because this is my review of Marvel and Neflix’s the Punisher.
The Punisher gets off to a rocky start as to be expected as Frank battles with the memories of his recently slain loved ones while working low key in the city as a construction worker. All the man wants to do is beat his terrible memories away with a sledge hammer but of course there are those there who rather pick on the quiet guy they have no idea can kill them all with a single shift of his thumb, go figure right.
Even with all the stuff that goes down in Frank’s mind and his construction site he still finds time to go to a Veterans support group that one of his old war buddy, Curtis, runs. This support group hosts a variety of different characters the most notable being Lewis. Lewis struggles with one heavy form of PTSD and it plays out a lot in every meeting that he feels unwanted by the country he has served. While all this is going on Frank tracks down some leads after saving a young kid named Donald from some mobsters after running with the wrong crowd. The bloody mess puts Frank back on the run to escape prying eyes who may be looking for him and while trying to put distance between him and the mess, Micro enters the picture.
Upset that Micro is trying to play him, Frank is able to retrieve information on his new found stalker from Karen (yes she’s in this) and sets up a ploy to get close to the wife and children he left behind after his supposed death. It becomes clear to Frank that Micro faked his death after finding out some pretty detrimental information based on government plans while doing his job in the intelligence field. After setting the trap that Micro so carelessly fell for, Micro finds himself in the clutches of one angry and determined ex marine. The two soon decide that they are after the same thing however and strike up a partnership instead.
While all this is going on, the viewers are given flashbacks of Frank’s military pass that include Billy Russo and Curtis. Billy, now out of the military, runs a simulation of sorts for people in need of ex military protective services which will cause a rift between him and Frank later down the line while also introducing him to Madina, an agent that worked under the now slain Wolf. While Madina and Russo spend their time making a mess in the sheets, Frank is bleeding out after a not so nice run in.
As usual ends tie to ends in a Marvel and Netflix marriage series with the new realization of just how much Lewis is off his rocker, he goes on a legitimate killing spree after Billy is talked into not letting him join his organization due to his mental instability. Billy soon learns that Frank is indeed still alive and this does not go over well since he spent the recent years mourning his fallen friend. Billy and Frank go at it, leaving each other full of bullets and truly busted up with Billy’s only incentive being money overall. The betrayal ultimately leads to a bloody and gorey demise that Billy earned. That pretty much sums up the Punisher
The Punisher does a wonderful job of not just celebrating the American veterans valor and tenacity but also dive deep into the problems these veterans face when they return. To me, this was one of the major strengths of the show even if it wasn’t meant to be. The show covers a range of problems that effect military veterans such as losing ligaments, PTSD, the job market, and so much more. In America, we love to say we love our veterans, but there are so many that our homeless, on food stamps, or can’t find decent work because some of the skills they learned in the military employers cant see how it can transfer over to regular business. I feel like Marvel and Netflix covering these topics in the show made it feel more robust and flushed out. It acted not only as a way to have a conversation about veterans mental health but also acted as an anchor to events that occurred further on down the line in the story. It shows that how life can be a domino effect. How one small decision could have serious repercussions so it was definitely a treat to see.
The Gore was everything I was expecting from the Punisher. I know there were some people complaining and my question is why? Frank is a former Marine on a killing spree because his family was murdered. For God’s sake his name is literally the Punisher. What were you expecting? I for one, appreciated not only the attention to detail with his military tactics and how he approached each situation from a tactical standpoint, but the blood and guts were very satisfying. If I wanted to watch love and rainbows I would turn on My Little Pony. I’m thankful that even though people were complaining, Marvel and Netflix still brought the blood and body parts. There is no need to sensor an antihero essentially declaring war on any and everyone in his way. It wouldn’t do his character justice.
For once, kind of like Thor Ragnarok, I can actually say the supporting characters felt just as important as the main character except for Karen (I really don’t like Karen). I found myself really feeling for Lewis and his struggle to accept the fact that the country he fought for no longer cared about him. I felt for him on a deep level when the situation between him and his father began to deteriorate. Curtis was a great addition since he always felt like the voice of reason for Frank or at least a way for him to cope with the loss of his family. Curtis acted as a crutch, which is extremely ironic because he is missing a leg but maybe that’s why he was so great at it. Billy well, to keep things pretty spoiler free since we do all the spoiler talk in the Balls Deep Geek segment, he was a character that I would consider a double edge sword. His motives are understandable but, with everything the Frank Castle crew had been through together I do think his actions brought a whole new dynamic to the show that really couldn’t be ignored. Micro is also a great hilarious addition. It’s like having the bully and the nerd having to work together in a very tongue and cheek style. Like Ned says, “Everybody needs the guy in the chair.”
The final strength I would give this show is the story. It’s convoluted, edgy, and fully of tie ins you will miss if you don’t pay attention. As usual Netflix and Marvel do an excellent job tying the storylines from newer shows to the shows that already previously exist. Although I am not a fan of Karen, I guess I could say for once she was actually useful in the plot of the Punisher’s story at the very least. The more I rewatched the punisher to write this review the more I noticed little things in it that a viewer wouldn’t get on one viewing. Paying attention to details is an important factor in military life and to see Marvel & Netflix execute this within the very fabric of their story was extremely. Watch it a couple more times, I promise you will notice a lot more to the story than you initially thought.
The only weakness I thought the show suffered from was when Frank finally got the upper hand on Micro. For me, the show’s momentum slowed down tremendously, and it got to a point where I stepped away from the show and watched Vikings instead. It took about a week to come back to it realizing “Oh wait, I still have to review that don’t I.” The show for the majority of its run truly isn’t boring, but I do think between episode 5-7 they take a seriously slow turn that can burn out a viewer after seeing nothing but endless action and explosions. Honestly, this is one of the few gripes I have with The Punisher series but it was enough of a gripe to have me lower my score. I never truly got bored with the other Netflix & Marvel mashup series outside of IronFist, which I forced myself to finish.
I think overall, The Punisher is a solid show that has very few issues with it that I can think of. It was entertaining overall and even with the dramatic slow down of story telling I still found it enjoyable. I do wish there was more development into exactly why Billy had such a drastic change in character development since his motives definitely didn’t seem strong enough but it was enough to create momentum in the story again. Frank Castle himself as a character was everything I was expecting, the story was solid, and his support system brought a realness to his world. Overall I would give The Punisher series a 6.5/10.