Starring: Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Wilson Bethel, Jay Ali
A review by Ryan M. Holt
Daredevil has always been the lynch-pin of Netflix side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following the mixed bag of Season 2 and the ho-hum executed Defenders mini-series, all of the other series have found their strides, even if Iron Fist has been put out to pasture. Thankfully, Daredevil Season 3 returns to the high concept storytelling and clear vision form the get-go that made Season 1 great.
That doesn’t mean that everything starts out great for Matt Murdock. At the end of the Defenders, Matt had a building dropped on him and ended up alive in his old Catholic Church, being brought to by his priest and Sister Maggie, played by Joanne Whalley.
The first episode does take a little while to find it’s footing. Some odd audio choices were probably made to help illustrate Matt’s growth back to his full form. This all comes to head in an amazing, straight out-of-the-comics, boxing sequence. Once Murdock falls back into step and reveals to his friends he is not dead, in his trademark selfish Matt Murdock way, of course, there are bigger problems threatening Hell’s Kitchen, mainly the return of the Kingpin. After negotiating his way out of prison and into a penthouse suite under the guise of house arrest, Kingpins reign of terror continues.
It is amazing how much the quality of the show leaps forward as soon as D’Onofrio is on screen. Not saying that all of the other actors in the show are bad actors, none of them are. Yet every scene with D’Onofrio is electrifying, and he elevates everyone’s work to a higher level. He commands every scene he is in. It really drives home what was missing in Season 2: A compelling villain. The Punisher stuff was interesting. The Elektra stuff was fun, but both of those storylines came through half-baked. In Season 3 though, everything is meticulously calculated and shown with purpose, giving the show a sense of anticipation I haven’t felt in a long while.
All of this is amped up to eleven with the introduction of Wilson Bethel as Bullseye. While some versions of the character come off as incredibly goofy, this version comes off as menacing and threatening to everyone he is around. Bethel nails the waywardness of the character who needs a little bit of direction. Once he plays into Kingpin’s hands, everything really starts to coalesce into a great arc for a great season. Every time Bullseye and Daredevil face off it feels absolutely brutal and earned, instead of just a weird boss battle style fight some of the other Netflix MCU shows have fallen into.
There should also be a conversation about something Daredevil has become known for: The long take action sequence. Following the brutal and well executed single shot hallway fight from Season 1, Season 2 attempted to do another one through a building while Matt Murdock couldn’t use one of his hands. It was the truest definition of a sophomore effort. It felt rushed, the impact was muddled, and it felt more like an obligation from the production team instead of an artistic choice made by the directors. The long take action sequence in Season 3 has none of these shortcomings.
The sequence starts with Matt Murdock on the back foot and continues to escalate in unpredictable ways, even stopping midway through all of the action for a negotiation. It is truly magical to see something like this so well thought out and executed in such an awesome way. You can see all of the pre-production work that went into this one sequence, and it pays off incredibly. Everyone who touched it should be incredibly proud of their work.
Watch it. Binge it. Daredevil Season 3 is a great return to form and brings Matt Murdock back to greatness. There are no ninja’s and nonsensical plots, only super compelling and edge of your seat TV. Every actor in the show is putting out their best work. You can’t help but watch just one more episode, even though it is way too late at night. It is Netflix in it’s purest of form.
Daredevil Season 3 will drop on Netflix this Friday, October 19th.