The best thing about Netflix and its TV shows is that it allows for binge watching. I’m not one to drown in a TV show for hours on end but for me, binge-watching means that it delivers the sweet, sweet notion that you don’t have to wait between weeks to find out what happens next in the show.
Adding to this — when the trailer for DAREDEVIL came out, it promised a whole different beast than the campy film that came out early 2000’s. The trailer was moody and grounded and seemed to suggest something brutal and violent. So I was even keener to see how this show would fare.
Well, the trailer delivered on the promise, as moody, grounded and brutal is exactly what Netflix’s DAREDEVIL is – in a nutshell, anyway.
Set in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, DAREDEVIL tells the story of Matt Murdock, blind lawyer by day, vigilante by night, as he does his absolute best to keep ‘his’ city clean from the ugly underworld folk.
Season One is the beginning of his saga, seeing him without the iconic suit as he struggles to leave more than a scratch on the bad guys of Hell’s Kitchen while juggling that other part of his life – the normal one.
Matt’s a stand up guy but he’s got darkness within him, he’s an animal that wants justice but he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. It’s an interesting and complex character and the further you get into season one, the more you question what’s really important to him: When exactly does the mask come off? When he is Daredevil or Matt Murdock?
Adding to this is Matt’s Catholicism, which adds a much-needed layer to his character. In fact, his interactions with a local priest throughout the season are some of the season’s best scenes.
Praise needs to go to Charlie Cox who A) plays a convincing blind man and B) wonderfully portrays the internal struggle of Matt as he goes along his journey. He’s tremendously effective in the role, be it a comedic moment or more dramatic turns.
‘Tremendously effective’ of course sums up the ensemble cast across the board. Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Frisk is a revelation. He’s the main villain of the piece but he’s not straight up evil and moustache twirling, you understand his pain and while you certainly don’t agree with him, you understand his motives. And why he is the way he is. D’Onofrio gets this pain and sympathy across wonderfully and in fact when it comes time for Frisk to get into a fight, it’s actually quite brutal and startling. D’Onofrio switches between brutal psychopath to relaxed so seamlessly.
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page gets a meaty little arc to explore and does so effectively, with seeds being sown that will hopefully deliver in season 2. Elden Henson as Foggy, Matt’s law partner and close friend, gets his own time to shine and is definitely more than just comic relief, although there is that.
More than this though, DAREDEVIL looks sensational. From its expertly choreographed fighting sequences that are brutal to capturing the many shades of New York – and being filmed there as opposed to many sound stages filling in for the city, was a great production choice because it looks sensational.
DAREDEVIL has been rejigged for a more adult crowd and it looks and feels fantastic. When it’s not dealing out fascinating dramatic beats, it dishing out brutal, cringe-worthy fight sequences and violence. You’ll cringe, make no mistake. But to top it all off, the writing for the show is outstanding and really is the cherry on the top of the ice cream. Or peach on the Pavlova, if you will allow me another dessert analogy.
The writing does stumble in parts of episodes in the later half of the season when dealing with Karen and Foggy’s life and what they are going through but it also corrects the shakiness and wraps up the individual character arcs for the season in a satisfying manner.
J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆