Jon Bernthal’s Sensational Performance Cannot Save the Dullness Within “The Punisher”

By Javier Reyes, Staff Writer

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Frank Castle is fighting a war with his inner vengeance for the people who killed his family.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Marvel’s “The Punisher” is Netflix’s newest addition of superhero television shows, starring actor Jon Bernthal. Benthal plays anti-hero Frank Castle, a retired Marine from New York whose extreme violence and insatiable bloodlust earned him the nickname “The Punisher.”

The show follows the events of the second season of the “Daredevil” series on Netflix. Castle takes revenge on the criminals responsible for murdering his family. After he uncovers evidence from a larger governmental conspiracy that correlates with their deaths, Castle’s anger consumes his life.

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Actor Jon Bernthal stars as Frank “The Punisher” Castle.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

As a series, “The Punisher” is a solid standalone production. However, references and characters may be difficult to follow along with if audiences have not seen the “Daredevil” series.

The plot lags for most of the season’s 13 episodes. “The Punisher” may advertise itself as being a high-stakes espionage thriller, but most of its run time is uninteresting and lacks meaningful developments. Most of the season should have been condensed into fewer episodes. It is surprising that a well-known character of violence and brutal action is only given a few moments of camera time.

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In Season 1 Episode 5 titled “Gunner”, characters David Lieberman (left) and Frank Castle (right) work together to seek answers from a reluctant witness.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

On the other hand, Jon Bernthal’s portrayal as Frank Castle is masterful. His performance gives the character a layer of nuance outside of being a murderous vigilante. Bernthal showcases the inner turmoil raging within the character on a number of occasions. It is heartbreaking to see such a broken man overcoming pain and grief. This also makes it satisfying to see him exact his revenge on those who have done him wrong, even going to the most violent extremes.

I can’t say much for the rest of the characters. The actual performances by the supporting actors are not bad, but their characters’ are missing a strong story line. The side story of Lewis Wilson, played by Daniel Webster, a young veteran with serious symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, had an interesting arc. However, I wish there was more information on his character instead of the generic government agents and overlords.

“The Punisher” series seems to think it is more mature than it actually is. Jon Bernthal delivers a fantastic performance, but the forgettable supporting cast, poor pacing and unimaginative plot are disappointing, especially for the hardcore Punisher fans of the Marvel universe.

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