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Daredevil

Daredevil

What He said:

He

I didn’t plan on watching this show. I don’t know if it’s because I still had a bad taste in my mouth from Affleck Daredevil or that I didn’t care for Marvel’s first foray into TV (I gave up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), but I had no intention of checking this out.  I didn’t even so much as see a trailer for it to be completely honest with you. Then reviews starting coming out. Not only were they good, they were really good  and the praise was almost universal. I was bored one day and remembered how people lauded this show, so I decided to check a few episodes out.

Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is lawyer who is struggling to make a difference.  He turned down a job at a bigger firm in order to open up a smaller one that focuses on helping local community members in Hell’s Kitchen; where he lives and grew up. He and his friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) are partners. Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) is their assistant. Together, they run the struggling firm.

Matt goes to greater lengths than his friends could ever imagine in his efforts to make a difference. He plans on saving Hell’s Kitchen through more aggressive means. He’s a vigilante. Despite his intentions of doing good through his day job, he comes to realize that the system is flawed – if not corrupt – and  believes that in order to make a difference, he needs to act outside the law. He roams the streets at night intimidating criminals into feeding him information that he plans on using in his law practice to put the scum of Hell’s Kitchen behind bars.  Foggy and Karen are unaware of his nightly activities, though as time passes by they become aware of the vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen who has been making headlines.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Matt sort of has superpowers. He’s not super strong, he can’t fly, he’s sure as shit not invincible, and he can’t shoot beams out of his eyes. He does, however, have heightened senses and reflexes.  When he was a kid he was blinded in an accident. As a result, like a typical blind person, he has heightened senses. His are on a completely different level though. He is very fast, agile, and can hear things like heartbeats and other sounds undetectable to the average human ear. He also knows karate.

Daredevil

Matt isn’t the only one who wants to make a difference in Hell’s Kitchen. Mysterious and wealthy businessman – Wilson Fisk – also wants to see bigger and better things for blue collar neighborhood. Like Matt, he grew up there and thinks it has so much more potential. The two of them have very different ways of achieving their goals though.  Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is much more ruthless and amoral. Fisk genuinely wants to improve the community he grew up in, but he thinks the only way to do that is to tear it down first. Matt’s illegal activities involve beating up bad guys. Fisk is one of the bad guys. He is one of the most powerful criminals in the city. He believes that in order to restore balance and order to Hell’s Kitchen, there needs to be a little chaos first – and by being a part of that chaos he can control the direction of the community.

Fisk is a complicated and interesting character. His desire to better the community is real. His public persona might be a lie, but his motives are genuine. Fisk really does want to make the community a better place. He simply has no qualms about doing horrible things to make it happen. He is a very shy, nervous, and awkward; which is even more obvious when he meets a woman. He does not like being the center of attention and seems like the kind of guy who avoids conflict. The opposite is actually true though. He is prone to violent outbursts in which he displays freakish strength. He’s the kind of person who is very quiet, lashes out in a very violent way, and goes back to his calm and quiet demeanor when finished with his temper tantrums.

Fisk has a slew of cronies, but the two most prominent ones are James Wesley and Leland Owlsley. Wesley is his right hand man. Aside from when things get really hairy, he is the one who handles the negotiations for Fisk’s “business” deals. He (Toby Leonard Moore) comes off as very polished and professional, however he will not hesitate to threaten someone into giving him what he wants if he has to. His demeanor is creepy as hell. He will go up to somebody and make them an offer in order to get them to do or give him what he wants. If things aren’t going his way, he won’t hesitate to threaten your life, but he’s still very calm while doing it. Despite not being as physically intimidating as Fisk, he’s a pretty unsettling character.

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Oslsley – who you might recognize from Shawshank Redemption – is the money man. He advises Fisk on the best way to invest and move his money. He (Bob Gunton) is a miserable man who is often condescending and disrespectful to his boss, but obeys him at the end of the day out of fear.

Though Matt acts alone, he has allies who act both directly and indirectly to his benefit. His assistant Karen has started doing some investigating of her own in addition to what she’s doing for the firm. After being dismissed – and later threatened – from her last job, she lands at Matt and Foggy’s firm. She is working with Foggy and Matt on cases against people like Fisk – and even Fisk himself. She has also been doing some investigating of her own with a reporter named Ben Urich and building her own case files.

Ben (Vondie Curtis-Hall) is an old veteran. He has been reporting on crime for years, but in recent years has been relegated to puff pieces. His newspaper is struggling – due to the popularity of blogs and other online outlets – and he is burnt out until he meets Karen.  He’s not an ass-kicker or anything like that, just a really caring and likeable man who fights the good fight in other ways. He is the kind of person you want to know and be around. It was a supporting role, but I really liked this casting decision, particularly the scenes with Karen. Vondie Curtis-Hall is mostly a character actor. I’ve seen him play henchmen in his youth. It was nice to see him get more screen time and do so well with it.

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So, most of the seasons revolves around forces of good and evil acting against one another, both directly and indirectly. For the longest time, the good guys don’t even know who Fisk is, and are simply encountering his “associates”. But as the season progresses, the two sides meet and there are multiple conflicts. The climax was draw-dropping and I don’t just mean the actual fight between Matt and Fisk. The stuff leading up to that was fantastic. It was tense and all though the final fight between the two was the final act, it wasn’t the only conflict. It had a great amount of tension and acting leading up to that final conflict.

The acting in this show is great. Charlie Cox plays the well-meaning, but very tortured, Matt Murdoch very well. Matt starts out an idealistic lawyer, but when he realizes the system doesn’t work and can do good fighting crime as a vigilante, he struggles where to draw a line. I also really liked his chemistry with Elden Henson. I really believed that these two were good buddies.

I thought Deborah Ann Wall was fantastic as Karen. It’s easy to say D’Onofrio or even Cox were the best, but her performance was always there in the background and it was really strong. They are the main characters and it’s easy to focus on them. Hell, on the surface, one might consider Foggy more of a key character than her, since he’s Matt’s old college buddy and business partner. But she gets more storylines and character development than Foggy.

Rosario Dawson also has a small role as a nurse named Claire Temple. She knows Matt’s secret and becomes his go to gal whenever he needs to get patched up. She is a lot more involved in the story early on, but as the plot progresses, she floats in and out. It works well and I like that not everyone is a main character.

The thing that a lot of people liked about this show in comparison to every other Marvel work was that it was dark and gritty. It was street level too. Every conflict – in fact none of them – was not about saving the world. It was refreshingly small-scale. The change of pace was from the Marvel movies was welcome. It gets old when every story is about saving the world. Marvel would be wise to recognize that when making future movies.

The only complaint I have about this show is that sometimes the fight choreography looked like it could use some work. It didn’t look real or natural. Sometimes it looked like punches weren’t connecting or that it lacked finishing touches. It wasn’t enough to affect my over opinion of the show, but it bugged me once a while. Aside from that, this is a very good show.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on June 14, 2015.

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