After his character, Shane Walsh, got turned into a walker in Season 2 of “The Walking Dead,” I’m glad to note Jon Bernthal has not been wanting for great and interesting projects. He was in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” he went slightly against type and played a very cool teacher in the tender “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” and just last summer, he was in Edgar Wright’s brilliant “Baby Driver.”
After appearing as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher in the second season of Netflix’s “Daredevil,” Bernthal returns for a solo Punisher series. “The Punisher” took me back to the ‘70s, not because of a retro feel but because it made me think of the vigilante films: Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” (1971) Joe Don Baker in “Walking Tall” and Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” (1974).
Of course The Punisher is done with 2017 sensibilities in terms of title, soundtrack, cinematography, fight choreography and graphic design, which includes guns in the title sequence.
While Bernthal nails the character and the story hooks you in, I realize not all audiences would see this story the same way. Some may see it as just another comic book character getting a good (even great for some) treatment on the small screen. Others—and here is where it could get tricky—can also take it in as a “fascist fantasy” and not see the arguments or different underlying philosophies and trains of thought on the subject.
For what it’s worth, The Punisher is well made, with a cast that includes Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page and Ben Barnes who gets as far away from Prince Caspian as he has in his career.
Eight years later, the characters on The Walking Dead continue on a rinse repeat cycle of moving towns, dealing with the villain of the moment and not heading towards any kind of resolution.
In contrast, Bernthal’s career continues an enjoyable trajectory with all sorts of varied projects. After this, he’s got a film called “Viena and the Fantomes;” IMDB puts the story down as “a roadie travels across North America with a punk band during the 1980’s” with femme fatales Zoë Kravitz, Dakota Fanning and “Fear The Walking Dead’s” Frank Dillane. He’s also got “The First Man” about the 1969 lunar landing with Ryan Gosling and “The Crown’s” Claire Foy and the crime drama, “Widows” with Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez and Viola Davis.
The first season of “The Punisher” was released on Netflix on November 17, with thirteen episodes out.