Lightning Review: Punisher: War Zone

This review was originally posted by Natasha from Life of This City Girl for her Marvelous Mondays feature.

Punisher: War Zone movie posterSynopsis
Six years ago, Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) and his family were enjoying a family picnic when they witnessed a mob hit, resulting in the death of his wife and two kids. Now he is the Punisher, slowly eliminating the crime families of New York City. When he kills the head of the Cesare family, he is succeeded by Billy ‘The Beaut’ Russoti (Dominic West). When Castle catches up to Russoti, he traps Russoti in a glass cutting machine, leaving him disfigured. Russoti takes the name “Jigsaw” and sets on out on a quest of revenge against the Punisher.

Review
I really enjoy 2004’s The Punisher starring Thomas Jane, but I felt its PG-13 rating held it back. The Punisher is a violent character who needs the freedom to be as brutal that the R rating allows. Punisher: War Zone takes full advantage of the upped rating. Every kill is gruesome (and almost artistic), very fitting for the character and world he inhabits. The violence feels almost over the top, acknowledging that its source material as a comic book, but never becoming too ridiculous. It is a good mix that few movies can pull off. Although, it can be difficult to be serious when your main villain’s primary motivations for revenge against the main character is because he ruined the villains face (there was a thing about the Punisher killing his crime family but hey, his looks were important to him).

Ray Stevenson does well as the Punisher. His presence is intimidating and he easily pulls off the toughness of the character. Thomas Jane showed more of Punisher’s calculating and strategist side, whereas Ray Stevenson’s Punisher shows the Punisher’s military training and violent combat side.   The story moved pretty quick and part of that was because it skipped Frank Castle’s transformation into the Punisher. Instead, he was already established as the Punisher for five years. His history was told through exposition, very similar to The Incredible Hulk. I like that it took that route because his origin is fairly simple and didn’t need to be retreaded again, especially only a few years after the previous Punisher movie. Punisher: War Zone embraces the violence of its comic book origins and shows a more graphic and ferocious Punisher than previous films that makes for a pretty entertaining afternoon popcorn flick.

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Lexi Alexander – Director
Nick Santora – Writer
Art Marcum – Writer
Matt holloway – Writer
Michael Wandmacher – Composer

Ray Stevenson – Frank Castle
Dominic West – Billy / Jigsaw
Doug Hutchison – Loony Bin Jim
Colin Salmon – Paul Budiansky
Wayne Knight – Micro
Dash Mihok – Martin Soap
Julie Benz – Angela
Stephanie Janusauskas – Grace
Mark Camacho – Pittsy
Romano Orzari – Nicky
Karem Malicki-Sanchez – Ink
Larry Day – Agent Miller
Ron Lea – Captain Ross
Tony Calaabretta – Saffiotti
Carlos Gonzalez-Vio – Carlos
TJ Storm – Maginty

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