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

Lightning Review: The Punisher

Review #100

This review was originally posted by Flashback/Backslide as part of his Marvel Blogathon.

The Punisher movie posterSynopsis
Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) sets out to destroy Howard Saint (John Travolta) and his criminal empire after he murders Castle’s entire family and leaves him for dead.

Review
One of my favorite things about The Punisher is that it feels like a comic book movie. Before Marvel’s Iron Man, it can be difficult to distinguish comic book movies from other action films if you don’t know beforehand. But this movie takes note from it’s comic origins and weaves a tale that is entertaining from start to finish. The fight scenes are over the top, but just slightly. Some of the sequences never feel like couldn’t not happen, but are comic-y enough to know that they actually couldn’t (if that makes sense). Thomas Jane is great as the stoic, unflinching Frank Castle. This was one of the first movies I remember watching where John Travolta was the villain. I like him here, but he’s not quite on the same level in his Ryder in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 a few years later. In the comics, Frank Castle is a great tactician and Lionsgate did well to transition that aspect of him onto the big screen, the way he systematically took apart Saint and his family. The Punisher is a greatly underrated film, combining comic action with humor to create the perfect blend. If you haven’t seen it or watched it in a while or even if you have, you owe it to yourself to check this one out again. Thomas Jane obviously like the character since he made the (graphic) short “Dirty Laundry” based on his version of the Punisher.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jonathan Hensleigh – Director / Writer
Michael Franch – Writer
Carlo Siliotto – Composer

Thomas Jane – Frank Castle / The Punisher
John Travolta – Howard Saint
Will Patton – Quenton Glass
Laura Harring – Livia Saint
Rebecca Romijn – Joan
Ben Foster – Spacker Dave
John Pinette – Bumbo
James Carpinello – Robert “Bobby” Saint / John Saint
Eddie Jemison – Mickey Duka
Russell Andrews – Agent James “Jimmy” Weeks
Roy Scheider – Frank Castle, Sr.
Samantha Mathis – Maria Elizabeth Castle