I was chained to my desk all weekend, so decided to make the best of it, and watched the new Netflix series Daredevil.
Netflix’s Daredevil is a super-hero series for people who don’t necessarily like super heroes. I fall squarely into the camp of folks that immediately tune out when it comes to invincible spandex-clad heroes. In fact, I’m not at all familiar with the Marvel comic, so can’t comment on how closely the Netflix series follows the long-running comic.
The show’s namesake is attorney Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) who has just opened a law practice with long-time friend Foggy Nelson. Murdock is the son of a failed boxer, and was blinded at a young age by toxic chemicals that left him with his other senses becoming super-enhanced.
The series opens with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll, True Blood), an entry-level accountant at Allied Construction, waking up on her apartment floor covered in blood, with a knife in her hand, and a co-worker lying dead beside her. She engages the legal services of Nelson & Murdock, and eventually joins the firm. Together they uncover an expansive crime ring in Hell’s Kitchen led by a group of wealthy elites including Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), who Google tells me is the villain Kingpin.
It’s not long before Murdock/Daredevil gets involved, fighting the corruption from the bottom up. And it’s the fighting that cause this show to shine. The choreography of the fight scenes is visceral, and genius. And there are a lot of them. In one long scene, Daredevil fights his way down a hallway. As the camera inches down the hall, Daredevil fights a seemingly endless series of baddies. He ducks into rooms off-camera to throw guys back into the hallway to fight, breaks down doors, and the other usual fight-scene tropes. But this fight is a ballet the likes which I haven’t seen since The Matrix.
The fights are long, and are sometimes so violent you want to turn away. The fighters get tired, and weaker as the beatings take their toll. The thrashings that Daredevil takes are brutal; he spends much of each episode laid out on his couch mending. He gives as well as he gets, considering the odds, but he doesn’t always win, and even when he does it’s at great physical cost. The series would have been over after the first episode if his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) wasn’t a doctor.
Another highlight of this first season is D’Onofrio’s (who gained 70 pounds for the role) villain Wilson Fisk. He has a love of New York, and justifies breaking a few eggs to make the city a wonderful place for everyone. And break them he does! Fisk is prone to frequent fits of rage and kills people – often his own men, in ghastly, horrendous ways. But the relationship with his newfound girlfriend (Ayelet Zurer) reveals his human side, and also his vulnerability.
I really enjoyed the first season. I’m glad to see studios gear shows more toward mainstream audiences with shows like Daredevil and Agents of SHIELD, and am looking forward to more #$@&* kicking next season!