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‘Daredevil’ Review: No ‘devil’ goes unpunished

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(Source: newsarama.com)
(Source: newsarama.com)

By DIEGO CAGARA

4/5/16

Somewhere atop an apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, a mysterious vigilante, equipped with a plethora of guns, grenades, hand-to-hand combat and a foul mouth, is independently killing rival gang members, a risky endeavor even Daredevil is hesitant towards. Known as the Punisher, viewers would learn about his backstory to help explain his seemingly barbarous tactics which may depict him as mentally disturbed.

Neftlix began streaming the second season of “Marvel’s Daredevil” on March 18, welcoming fans back to its uncompromising, bone-smashing yet captivating environment where Daredevil (Charlie Cox) struggles to balance his life as Matt Murdock while encountering iconic comic book characters Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal).

Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed singularly-shot hallway fight scene from season 1 episode “Cut Man,” the action and fight sequences remain professionally filmed while still capturing the gritty nature. The show does not hold back when it comes to showcasing graphic and violent content, particularly when the unrelenting Punisher stands his ground against a dozen muscular, dagger-wielding men.

The Punisher, real name Frank Castle, had witnessed his family die from a savage gang-against-gang shootout near a carousel at Central Park prior to the second season, pushing him to seek revenge on each gang member with brutal force, epitomizing him as an antihero. His belief in retribution contrasts from Daredevil’s preference for justice, this ideological battle enveloping the first four episodes.

“You hit ‘em and they get back up, I hit ‘em and they stay down!” the Punisher defiantly declared.

Bernthal’s no-nonsense portrayal is one of the season’s highlights, viewers already confident in this casting decision after his stellar performance as Shane Walsh in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Meanwhile, the close friendship, akin to a bromance, between Murdock and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) is one of the more outstanding elements, helping to drive the human aspect of the show. Nelson’s concern for Murdock’s well-being, now aware of his dual identity, succeeds in emotively challenging Daredevil as to whether constantly getting beaten up or feeling exhausted from his heroic duties is worth it. Romance is explored when their mutual colleague and friend, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) develops feelings for Murdock, both sharing a passionate kiss under the rain, similar to Mary Jane Watson’s famous liplock with Spider-Man from 2002.

Murdock’s closely-knitted bonds with those two are severed when Elektra, a former flame, shows up in his apartment and Nelson is reluctant to defend the Punisher in court after he was arrested by police, believing that losing the case would end their already-troubled firm. The show manages to depict how pressured Murdock feels as Elektra asks for his help with dealing with the enigmatic Roxxon Energy Corporation. Flashbacks reveal that Elektra and Murdock once dated in college but parted due to her willing-to-murder personality and her signature sai debut in the tenth episode.

To make room for the new characters, the season, however, suffers from the absence of murdered journalist Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall), and how nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and incarcerated crime lord Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) appear in fewer episodes than in season 1. Temple and Page become stronger female characters as the former single-handedly fought off ninjas while helping Daredevil with her medical expertise while the latter’s curious disposition pushes her to pursue more investigative work, somewhat taking up the mantle from Urich.

To continue tying in with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, references to “The Avengers” (2012) and Netflix’s other binge-worthy show “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (2015) are intermittent, hoping for viewers to still mainly focus on Daredevil’s narrative though.

Perhaps New Yorkers should vacate the city as it’s become the epicenter of superhero-inclusive battles, damaged property and underground organized crime. Nonetheless, season 2 of “Daredevil” continues to thrill with new characters, expanding on existing relationships, fast-paced action and providing social commentary on the state’s justice system, all revolving around the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. However, the season sometimes feels uneven as the core cast are somewhat pushed to the background due to the influx of new characters. Thus, if the show receives a third season, the writers should not forget the great chemistry among the remaining original cast.

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