While I thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Jane's turn as Frank Castle in 2004's "The Punisher," a part of me wanted the title character to get just a bit nastier, a bit dirtier and a heck of a lot more violent. Enter Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo of "Rome"), a bigger, badder version of Frank Castle. Not only does Stevenson fully claim the role of the Punisher in "Punisher: War Zone," he dominates every scene he is in.
In "Punisher: War Zone," we are given a reboot of the Punisher's origin. Via brief (and well executed) flashbacks, the audience learns that Frank Castle has a huge chip on his shoulder since the murder of his family after they witness a mob hit. He declares a one man war against all criminals, from the lowest pickpocket to the toughest crime boss.
When he accidentally kills an undercover agent while dishing out swift and violent punishment, he decides to turn in his guns. However, newly crowned crime boss Billy "The Beaut" Russoti survives an attack from the Punisher (albeit with a severely disfigured face), and Castle is forced back on the job.
Russoti (who now goes by the name "Jigsaw") decides to murder the wife and daughter of the undercover agent that Castle accidentally killed. He goes to the local asylum and picks up his brother, James "Loony Bin Jim" Russoti and asks him to help him on his mission.
From there, the film is filled with brutal beatings, decapitations, a hint of cannibalism and Frank Castle violently eliminating any and every dirtbag in his way as he tries to stop Jigsaw and LBJ from killing the dead agent's family. It's not rocket science, but hunting down and killing bad guys is what the Punisher has always done, so I wasn't expecting some emotional tour de force from the film.
Overall, this film is the truest to the comics so far. Stevenson LOOKS like Frank Castle and director Lexi Alexander couldn't have chosen a better person for the role. Dominic West hams it up a bit as Jigsaw, but his demented villain is a perfect foil to the Punisher. LBJ, a character created specifically for the film, is portrayed by Doug Hutchison (perhaps best known as Percy from "The Green Mile"). Hutchison is even more twisted as LBJ than West is as Jigsaw and, to be quite honest, steals the screen from Castle's primary enemy. Wayne Knight (Newman of "Seinfeld") plays Microchip, Castle's weapons supplier and main source of moral support. Colin Salmon does a good job as FBI agent Budiansky. Julie Benz plays the deceased agent's wife and Stephanie Janusauskas plays her daughter. Rounding out the primary players is Dash Mihok as Soap, head of the "Punisher Task Force" and a friend of Castle.
Director Alexander makes sure there are plenty of kills in the film, and spared no expense when it came to buckets of blood, explosives and some very well done puppets. It was nice to see almost no CGI in a film for once. "War Zone" is also filled with plenty of hard hitting music. The soundtrack only adds to the violent atmosphere of the film.
Is "War Zone" perfect? Not at all. However, it's the best Punisher flick so far and hopefully a sequel will find its way to the big screen in the future. As stated before, Ray Stevenson owns this role and has set the bar high for any of his future potential replacements.
I recommend this film to fans of the "Punisher" comics, action flick fans, gore hounds and anyone who likes plenty of 'splosions. The R-rating is well deserved thanks to a ton of strong language and violent and gory action. Fanboys rejoice.
PUNISHER WARZONE I have been a fan of Marvel Comics since forever and The Punisher has always been one of my favorite characters of all time. I probably am one of the few people that says they have enjoyed all three of the Punisher films but it is the truth, every one of them have been entertaining in my book. In fact if you were to put the three together you would most likely have the greatest movie ever made, think about it. If you took the atmosphere … more
This movie is a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night especially with friends watching while eating pizza and such [great night]. Go into this with the brain shut off and ready to be entertained and I know you will enjoy it. Sure this is not the greatest movie ever made but man is it a fun one
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Punisher: War Zone cannot be adequately described as "over the top"--it's a relentless catalogue of brutal mayhem punctuated, here and there, with outrageous sentimentality. Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher (Ray Stevenson, Rome) has dedicated his life to killing the kind of gangsters who murdered his family. But when he unknowingly kills an undercover FBI agent, Castle falls into a crisis of conscience and decides to lay down his guns. Unfortunately, one of the last gangsters he thought he'd killed survived, albeit horribly disfigured, and seeks revenge on the wife and daughter of that slain FBI agent--so Castle has to go one last spree of vigilante justice! But this plot summary will not prepare you for the jolting violence ofPunisher: War Zone; rarely do more than a few minutes go by without startling physical savagery, particularly to people's heads, which get blown apart with numbing frequency. This violence somehow goes hand in hand with dizzyingly saccharine moments when a young girl gazes at Castle with trusting eyes, knowing in her heart that he's the only one who can protect her. The dialogue goes beyond cliche into tough guy baroque. Stevenson underplays Castle to good effect, because everyone else in the movie--including Dominic West (The Wire), Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile), and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld)--chews the scenery like it's slathered with gravy. Some viewers will find this movie revolting; others will worship it like a golden calf. You probably know ...