The Punisher is an awful, phoned-in misfire of a film that will most likely not appeal to anyone, even those in its teen-age boy target audience. The movie falls short in pretty much every area possible. It’s rushed, half thought out and needlessly dark and violent. It contains some of the most laughable, horrendous dialogue in recent months.
For people not interested in comics, The Punisher is a simple tale of revenge: Government agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) has finished his last mission and is preparing to retire to be with his wife and son. But something went wrong in the last mission, and the son of rich sadistic money launderer Howard Saint (John Travolta) was murdered.
As revenge, Saint sends a group of men, including Quentin Glass (Will Patton) to a family reunion to kill Castle’s whole family (including Roy Schneider in a truly bizarre cameo). Castle is left for dead but somehow lives through it. At that point, he dedicates himself to finding and killing everyone involved with the murder of his family. He does so while wearing a silly looking pajama shirt with a skull on it.
As previously stated, there is very little about this movie that actually works. The tone is entirely too serious-it begs for some sort of self-deprecating humor.
At least one of the actors should have known what a mess they were involved in and had fun with it. Unfortunately, they all seem to be wrapped up in their “performances” (Jane), or phoning in something just to collect a paycheck (Travolta and Rebecca Romijn Stamos).
Jonathan Hensleigh is no help. The first-time director and former scribe of such garbage as Armageddon and The Saint seems to think he can have things both ways. He wanted to make a dark, depressing movie that for some reason has thunderclaps accentuating things the villain says. Needless to say, it does not work.
There is one singular sequence that breaks out of this monotony. An extended fight between Castle and a large Russian played by former pro-wrestler Kevin Nash is exciting and rather silly at the same time. This movie could have worked if it had kept up this same tone all the way through.
This movie should be a serious reminder to filmmakers that any old thing based on a comic book will not necessarily turn out well. Hopefully it will bomb and the world will not be subjected to a sequel.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org