Monday, 9 May 2016
JON BERNTHAL Feature-DIME & PUNISHMENT
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Withdrawn. 'Gone Dark' as the military would categorize it. This soldier is solemnly that. Wearing the bleakness of Winter like the army boots he straps on and the leather jacket he throws on across the bones of an iconic black t-shirt. His hair slicked to offset the stuble that has long seen the shadow of five o'clock. His fingerless gloves reach for a photo above the fireplace. It's almost unrecognisably him, wearing a freshly shaved smile we now can't see beneath the frown next to a wife and kid...but in this empty living room it's been a long time since this frame. He hesitates for a second like he doesn't want to disturb it's place of peace but then punches the glass and almost rips the perfect picture from the shards. He drops the Costco gold frame like it was nothing and dusts off the picture to get a good look of it again before stuffing it in his jacket pocket and turning away from the whole scene like he's never going to look back again. Focussing on the task at hand he starts packing his black bag with heavy weights. One batch. Two batch. Penny and dime. It may aswell be lead because this mans packing like artillery. Like he was bringing a blunderbuss. Leaving home with only a dark loneliness riding shotgun he opens the door, closes it and looks up to a black sky...no sun. He pulls his sleeve back to reveal his watch. It reads 0.00. Military precision. He begins his march. His long walk from home. His pilgramage to Hells Kitchen, New York City. Taking no Subway. Only the iron punishment on his back and the weighing down expectations of all the people. All the die-hards and men of service. All the people that know his face beneath the flesh. All the people that recognise this solitary figure walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in the mid-nite hour that in this shadowy sense looks just as lonely as he does. He looks like the the type of guy you just don't want to mess with. Let alone say something to or at least catch his eye. But they keep shouting at him. Calling after him. He can't quite make out what they're saying, he's so gone but then he really listens. "Don't f### this up"!
When Jon Bernthal filmed the classic, war torn, claustraphobic, tense tank drama 'Fury' with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBouef, Michael Pena and Logan Lerman he really was furious. Really f###### furious. Why?! Because not only did he miss the birth of his child, filming meant he wasn't allowed to even see his newborn at all. That's why! He didn't meet his kid until he was around 8 months old. 8 MONTHS OLD! That would break most men. But not Jon. At least not all the way. Bernthal's just aren't most men. Jon Bernthal took all that frustration, anger and pain and raged and raged, throwing it into his work and role. Putting it all into his dirty, scruffy, toothless, spitting, egg licking cruel character that God damned still had heart beneath that bruised, no beaten, no blitzed soul. Bernthal alongside a perfect Pitt, puncuated Pena, sheer sensational Shia and a coming of age Logan, perfectly captured the effects not only war, but the confides of a submerged tank shared with four other men with nothing but murder and madness on their minds. Mentally as uncomfortable as their physical surroundings this cabin fever war zone may aswell have been leagues under the sea it was so far from the light. But still in these dark times Jon still shone. War ready and trained in the trenches of mud and blood warfare no wonder he was ready for the Marvel ranks of Netflix's 'Daredevil' season 2. Even showing (face to face) Vincent D'Onofrio's Fisk character that Frank Castle really was king to the skull and cross bones. Playing the iconic Punisher to puncuated power of emotional backstory and reason of dark depth like Thomas Jane and even all action hero Dolph Lungren couldn't before him. Making Season 2 of The Man Without Fear even better than the brilliant blockbuster, best Marvel movie of all-time that is the latest Captain America movie vs Iron Man and every other Avenger not called Thor and Banner in his 'Civil War' with Matt Murdock. Law and disorder. Vigilante justice versus violent sentancing. Or as he puts it perfectly, "you hit them and they get back up...I hit them and they STAY down"!
Leonardo DiCaprio looks down the table of a boiler room hot, Summer of the 80's, New York diner at all the Gorden Gekko wannabes dressed in stock high braces and horn rimmed, balance sheet focussing, buttermilk glasses. The wolves would eat these Wall Street kids alive. He pulls a pen out of his sports coat jacket pocket and begins to survey his crowd of disciples at their first meal of steak and red basket mozzarella sticks. He sums them all up like he's drawing a line under them or through them. One kind of looks like that best friend from 'My Name Is Earl'...does he make the list? Then there's an American-Korean man that looks kind of like he'll end up presiding over a big, televised case like 'The People vs O.J. Simpson. The jury is still out on him. And hey is that one kid with the curls and rolls Jonah Hill? You know? From 'Moneyball'. 'MONEY'-ball. Surely he's here to make his bread and butter. "Sell me this pen" the Academy Award acclaimed, Oscar winning actor DiCaprio declares. Holding the biro like he was handing over the sword of Excaliber or the hammer of Thor. "Sell me this pen" he asks again. Reading the table everyone looks confused like they have no idea what he's getting at, or what to do. Just like they have no idea how of the lude debauchery they are about to let themselves in for. One man though, wife beater, jacked up on protein and cocaine, handling a mafioso moustache like the bar that's being tabbed has a different look on his face. It's almost angrily impatient. Like can we move on to the main course I get the appetizer already. He takes the pen off Leo and gives it a once over twirling it around its circumfrence. DiCaprio beams with wanting anticipation like he's hoping to be on the cusp of witnessing some genuine magic. "Write your number down" the slicked hair and tanned, gym rat muscle that looks more ready for Florida than finance demands. "But I don't have a pen" Leo's Jordan Belfort replies in almost mock, pantomining role play. "BOOM"! "Supply and demand", Jon Bernthal declares as he trash tosses the pen back at 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' like what he did was nothing...and not simply genius. Oh and this scene stealing moment in the gold statue nominated look at the wild, criminal, x-rated side of stockbroking from Scorcese, that featured a chest thumping Matthew McConaughey cameo in his Oscar stealing 'Best Actor' year was that much more special because of one underlining reason for Marty's slick script. It was purely improvised by Bernthal. Hmm, hmm!
Why is he doing this? Because he's no half measure. Because he isn't afraid to get the job done. Because he's no coward. Here's one thing you can't see. Even on one of his bad days they aren't even close to being he. He, Jon Bernthal is one of the best in the game. If DiCaprio is the greatest actor of our generation...and Oscar Isaac the next great. Then Jon Bernthal is the best method actor out there. Whether killing it on the small screen, running with the likes of the undead 'Walking Dead' to striking fear into leading men by being one of the best supporting players when Shane hits the silver screen...far from just another character actor with all due respect to those underrated legends. He can change it up all on a dime flip! Whether breaking out the scruffy hair, unkempt suit and Kurt Rambis bifocals for the 80's Sprinsgteen soundtrack themed 'Show Me A Hero', HBO, Oscar Issac Emmy winning project. Or housing with De Niro to look exactly like his son in the 'Raging Bull'/'Rocky' boxing 'Grudge Match' with Sly Stallone. From red to blue corners Bernthal has the creed to play characters both fighting strong and on the ropes...imagine if they remade another Scorsese big score?! Bernthal has even somewhat channeled De Niro's Al Capone for a 'Smithsonian' exhibit of a 'Night At The Museum' sequel cameo. Proving that this star is fondly funny in parody but also untouchable when it comes to surprise small roles. Just see how he doesn't let up, from the neck crushing, Blunt cameo in one of last years best, 'Sicario', to the man that started his career with bit roles in the likes of 'Law and Order' and 'CSI: Miami'. Earning more battle born stripes in the battalion of 'The Pacific' and even the 'Modern Warfare' of Kevin Spacey, video game acting responding to the 'Call Of Duty'. The kind of ex-military experience that is crucial to break down the walls of Castle. And to be Frank, Jon knows what it takes and means to be this armed character as many members of the forces have died wearing the iconic skull logo that even transcends comic books. The man that has read up on his coral though is cocked with action and loaded with emotion in the most passionate Punisher yet in "Daredevil's' second series. From the first Terminator bootsteps walking through the wards of a hospital that's about to have more patients, to a breaking prison fight escape, shank redemption that's about to leave a few vacant cells for a lot of inmates. And the sheer drilled down torture to the real love is hell, bar booth debate over another cup of bad coffee it all goes round like a 'Face/Off' tragic carousel. But even for all the machine gun funk this hells leather anti-hero fires, it's the shots he spits in argument with 'Daredevil' chained to a lonesome rooftop and ideas of court versus street justice that hit harder than any bullet. According to us its a blurred sides debate even more divisive than the accords. And forget 'Batman v Superman' this is a real fight in this dawn of injustice among us. Now if you can't take the moral of this meaning as red, then just wait until the devil horned hero takes our chamber and trigger man to a tombstone to explain the meaning behind "one batch, two batch, penny and dime". No eyes dry. No wonder Marvel have given the go ahead for the Punisher to have his own Netflix series out of the cage with fistful of iron. Did you really think Bernthal's burner was going to chill? Check the clip. There's another round in the scope. BANG!