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THE PUNISHER Features Less-Than-Capital Punishment

  • Nov 19, 2010
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It's hard to know what to make of THE PUNISHER, Marvel's counterpoint to DC Comics' THE BATMAN. Both characters are vigilantes; both characters have been turned into who they are due to the criminal deaths of their families; and both are mere mortals. However, whereas THE BATMAN was given a big screen reception with star power and a modestly entertaining script, THE PUNISHER -- in its second attempt at the silver screen -- seems to languish in mediocrity.

Tom Jane does an admirable job at trying to bring sense to the life of Frank Castle, a former government agent who retires from the job in order to, finally, spend more time with his family. However, his last job -- playing a drug lord in a sting operation -- goes horribly awry and ends up causing the shooting death of a thug belonging to the Saint family ... and Howard Saint (played in almost understated parody by the usually reliable John Travolta) wants Castle and his family dead as a consequence. True enough, a squadron of professional killers are dispatched to due in the reliable screen talent of the lovely Samantha Mathis (appearing briefly as Mrs. Castle) and JAWS and BLUE THUNDER action star Roy Scheider (appearing even more briefly as Frank Castle, Sr.); however, logic fails the bad guys as the appear almost singly in the future endeavors, always a fatal mistake when going mano-a-mano with a comic book character.

This isn't to say that THE PUNISHER doesn't have its strengths. To the contrary, this telling is a slight departure from the original Punisher mythos, where Castle basically declares war on the mob/mafia as retribution for the killing of his family; this time out, Castle is given a new 'family' of sorts that takes the shapes of the unlikely group of tenants in the building where he lives: the comely Rebecca Romijm-Stamos (Joan), John Pinette (Bumpo), and Ben Foster (Dave). In fact, PUNISHER tries but fails to reach some of the heights hinted at when Dave, after being inadvertantly protected by Castle, mumbles, "No one ever stood up for me before." Unfortunately, the touching moments are quickly dispatched with sorely predictable gunplay and explosions, and sentimentality is sacrificed for near lunacy of a plot.

Sadly, the film is short far more like a television movie than it is a true theatrical outing befitting some of Marvel's other recent properties (SPIDER-MAN and THE HULK as example), and a significant portion of film is bathed in blackness, making the murky picture only fall hand-in-hand with the murkier script. Some moments are sacrificed by the lovely eye candy of Laura Harring as the modestly grief-stricken Livia Saint, but, as Travolta says, "She took a train."

All this and thrown in a woefully out-of-place baddie named only "The Russian" seemingly plucked from a really bad "Popeye" script keeps this Punisher dishing out more punishment on the audience than the bad guys who deserved it.

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November 20, 2010
I truly had mixed feelings about this movie. I liked the 'so bad its good sequel a tad better--I dunno why. Though this had a great moment as with the fight with the big Russian--that was fun.
More The Punisher (2004 movie) reviews
review by . December 30, 2009
The Punisher is here to serve justice to the wicked....
I'm a massive, massive Marvel fan. I like all there character's(well almost all.) But the Punisher was never on my top ten list, until now. When I saw the trailer for "The Punisher" I didn't know what to think I thought this would be just another high octane action flick with allot of dead bodies and destruction. But what I got instead was a well thought out and executed revenge film.               This movie never felt to me like a comic …
review by . December 13, 2008
I just watched The Punisher last night with my boyfriend. At first I didn't think I'd like it, but it turned out to be a pretty good movie. It's about an FBI agent (Thomas Jane) who turns vigilante because of a mobster(John Travolta) who kills his wife, son and whole family while on vacation. The movie did have some parts I didn't think were necessary and didn't really understand what was going on, but overall it was a good movie. Of course it was a Marvel Comics movie, but good nonetheless. …
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Ed ()
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What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … more
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