This article contains Daredevil Season 3 spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here if you prefer.
If you’ve been watching Daredevil Season 3, you already know there’s a lot to like. Over the course of its 13 episodes, the new season of Daredevil makes the case that it’s the best of any Marvel Netflix show so far, bringing the crime show elements back to the forefront, introducing a host of compelling new characters (including an extended origin story for Bullseye), and showcasing the most spectacular action sequences in series history.
Yes, you read that last part right.
Daredevil has always traded heavily on its grounded but breathtaking action sequences, but season three manages to up the ante considerably. The gold standard, of course, remains the single-take hallway fight from the first season, a close-quarters brawl that established how Matt Murdock certainly outclasses any number of street thugs, but also can take a solid beating in the process. Daredevil and other Marvel Netflix shows have occasionally (and rather self-consciously) paid tribute to that at various points, but they’ve always felt like pale echoes of the original. That is, until now.
“The hallway fight in season one was an amazing piece of work, and every season of Daredevil has aspired to kind of one-up it,” Daredevil showrunner Erik Olseson says. “As Charlie Cox would say, the stairwell sequence in season two was more of an homage to the hallway fight. But in this season, our goal was to actually go far beyond what that hallway fight was.”
They succeeded. Daredevil season 3 episode 4, “Blindsided” features an incredible single take action sequence unlike anything I’ve ever seen. “It is, honestly, the sequence I am most proud of in my entire career after doing more than a dozen television series,” Oleson says. “Charlie Cox will tell you it was probably the most-rewarding action sequence he has ever experienced in his career.”
More ambitious than the classic hallway fight, and perhaps even more impressive than the now legendary tracking shot action sequence from the first season of True Detective, “Blindsided” sees Matt Murdock, sans costume, fight his way out of a prison as a riot breaks out around him. It is, I kid you not, 15 minutes long
“We had ambitions to do something really spectacular this season,” Oleson says. “One of the directors, the stunt team, proposed an insanely ambitious sequence which required me to essentially tell the crew to stop filming so that they could rehearse an entire day on the clock, just to be able to pull off the sequence. Anybody who knows television production and the costs associated with it, it was an insanely ambitious idea and there were no guarantees that it would work. But it did…spectacularly.”
Yes, it most certainly did. The “Blindsided” fight scene doesn’t even telegraph that it’s going to be anything big at first. It kicks off with a drugged Matt Murdock fighting a phony nurse in a prison medical ward. That claustrophobic fight in a cramped doctor’s office is fun in itself, but with each door Matt passes through on his way out of the prison, the stakes are raised. Alarms ring, fires break out, more and more people on both sides of the law get involved (most of whom do not have Matt’s best interests at heart), and it takes nearly five minutes for the realization to sink in that the cast and crew of the show are really going for it. Most impressively, it doesn’t just feel like one long take, it actually is one long take.
“Every member of the crew had to be in complete sync for a one shot action sequence that has no hidden cuts,” Oleson says. “It is a true oner. That’s something I really want everybody to know. There were moment inside of it where we built in safety hinges, like darkened spaces where I could have hidden an editorial cut if I wanted to or to stitch two different takes together. We didn’t.”
Oleson wanted to make sure that the audience knew there was no digital trickery involved and that the team pulled it all off. “Even in post-production, I went in and I lightened the darkened portions so that the audience could see and appreciate that I never actually hid a cut in there,” he says. “It is something that hopefully people will be talking about.”
They already are. Daredevil Season 3 is now available on Netflix.
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