I’LL just say straight up – I love Daredevil. Seriously love it.
This new Netflix series about the Marvel hero has been a revelation, especially after that lame 2003 film starring Ben Affleck.
Matt Murdoch? Who cares. I certainly didn’t.
At least I didn’t until this series.
Daredevil is a brute of a thing; a wonderful blast of action and tension, plot and character.
What cemented my infatuation was a brawl in a corridor – one of the better fight scenes on TV.
Our hero, lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night Matt Murdoch is determined to rescue a boy abducted by the Russian mafia.
The boy is held in a room at the end of a long corridor. His abductors are behind two other doors.
Murdoch, although he’s suffering from a beating that nearly killed him, doesn’t go for the boy. Not at first. He goes after the men.
The camera stays on the corridor. What unfolds is a furious punch up. Bodies fall everywhere, limbs flail about, men stagger up, plunge down again. Fists fly.
Matt takes as many hits as he gives. He can hardly keep his feet. But somehow he just has the will to keep going.
This hero is certainly a man who knows how to take punishment.
He’s also flawed, fascinating – and blind.
The premise is that because he’s blind Murdoch’s other senses of smell, hearing and touch are heightened. In fact he’s like a ninja with incredible fighting skills that include weird flips and twists and spinning kicks.
He dons an eyeless mask of sorts and batters – really batters – nasty villains in his bid to reclaim the streets of Hell’s Kitchen.
Hell’s Kitchen is still reeling after the Chitauri attack in the Avengers movie, not that you need to know about it or be a Marvel fan to love this series.
The rebuilding opens the way for all manner of corruption as criminals fight for a share of the pie.
Chief among them is their “kingpin” Wilson Fisk.
We don’t meet the Kingpin for three episodes, though we know he’s there, creating an atmosphere of menace and anticipation about his eventual appearance.
And when he does appear, he stamps himself as one of the great villains.
Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order Criminal Intent) plays Fisk with a vulnerability that makes him almost sympathetic. But is he beyond redemption?
There’s no doubt he’s the bad guy.
Just as it’s clear who the hero is: Murdoch, though he blurs the lines at times with his own form of rough justice.
And what a hero he is. You’re afraid for him – terribly afraid. So much so, you don’t want to watch the next episode; surely it will be worse – the danger, the beatings the tension.
He’s also wonderfully complex. Clearly Murdoch believes in justice – but a lawyer who takes the law into his own hands?
He’s fearless, reckless and tormented by good, old Catholic guilt. We first meet Matt in the confessional box asking for forgiveness for what he’s about to do.
Then there’s his back-story: Blinded by a chemical spill as a boy, he’s raised by his battler father, a man forced to use his fists in the ring to make enough money to pay the rent.
As for Matt’s fighting skills – he’s good, very good but he’s vulnerable. Episode two starts with Matt lying wounded in a bin. The writers don’t flick back to what happened; they trust us to understand that our hero fought and lost.
But he’s far from beaten. As his father taught him, it’s not how you go down, it’s how you get up.
British actor Charlie Cox (Stardust) is totally engaging and sympathetic as Murdoch. He’s not conventionally handsome but he looks good in a mask.
His offsider, though ignorant of his friend’s alter ego, is his law firm partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), the good-natured guy who can’t quite get the girl, though he seems to connect with secretary Karen Page (True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll).
Daredevil is a dark series. It’s also dark in terms of how it’s shot. Lots of shadowy streets, night-time scenes, murky abandoned buildings and alleys.
It’s deliciously good and you’ll want to devour it all at once – which you can.
By now you’ve probably heard of Netflix and its arrival in Australia. It offers the entire 13 episodes of the first series of Daredevil at once. Hello binge watching.