The Punisher

The Punisher


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

The Punisher is The Gator's kinda guy. I know I'm not the only one who is sick of neutered comicbook movies that don't have the balls to be anything other than family-safe eye candy. In recent years we've suffered an absolutely appalling Hulk that had bugger all to do with the comic, an utterly moronic Catwoman and, lets be honest, the first Spider- man was pretty pathetic. And I won't even mention Batman And Robin (oops, I just did).

Thank God for The Punisher. Nobody is going to censor this dude, although we did have to put up with a very sucky-sucky, el cheapo Dolph Lundgren version back in the Eighties.

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Frank Castle (that would be Thomas Jane this time) is not a man to cross. If so, you might end up with a knife through your chin and out the top of your skull. Like Steven Seagal in Hard To Kill and, to a much, much, MUCH lesser degree, Vin Diesel in A Man Apart, if you murder a guy's family he WILL punish you in the worst way. Howard Saint (John Travolta, infinitely better than his campy villains in Broken Arrow and Face/Off), a Miami crime boss, finds this out the hard way.

Saint orders Frank to be killed after the death of his son in a botched FBI raid, but his wife cuts in and adds, "His family, his whole family." And exactly that happens. Frank's wife, son, mum, dad, uncles, distant cousins, etc are wiped out during a reunion. The bad guys even massacre little kids hiding under tables. You get the picture; they are E.V.I.L. But in the tradition of revenge thrillers, they don't make absolutely sure that Frank is dead. They've obviously never seen any Jason films.

Peter Parker thinks he has problems if he can't pay rent, get a girlfriend, or if no one likes him. Boo hoo! Frank Castle has REAL problems, none of this wimpy crap. When he comes back from the dead, boy is he in a bad mood! And who can blame him? He may not be the tallest tree in the jungle, or the hardest looking er...brick in the wall, but Thomas Jane fits the role of Frank Castle perfectly. One would imagine the likes of The Rock being preferred for such a role (and yes, they DID try to sign "gravel-voiced man-mountain" Vin "Donald Duck" Diesel), but Jane's lack of massiveness just makes his character even tougher.

This movie is the directorial debut of Jonathan Hensleigh, who wrote [film]Die Hard With A Vengeance, Armageddon and um...Jumanji. His relentless, bloody style gives The Punisher infinite more integrity than any other comicbook adaptation. When was the last time you saw a real hardcore action movie? If this is what you long for then The Punisher will cure all that.

It doesn't get the Gator MacReady Claw of Approval because it should have been, quite simply, FIVE hours long. To hell with Crapwoman 2, or an Elektra movie. Give us a Punisher sequel right now. Now! NOW!

Reviewed on: 24 Sep 2004
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Comicbook revenge action picture that takes no prisoners.
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Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh, Michael France

Starring: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Rebecca Rojmin-Stamos, Veryl Jones, Eddie Jemison, Ben Foster, Mark Collie, James Carpinello, A Russell Andrews, Laura Harring, Samantha Mathis, Roy Schieder

Year: 2004

Runtime: 124 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Germany


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