Punisher, Dir; Jonathan Hensleigh, Cert; 18
came not for revenge
but to punish
There is little doubt in my mind, and nor should there be in yours, that
this film is utter crap. Somehow though, it still manages to be thoroughly
entertaining and enjoyable utter crap.
Ok, perhaps its a little unfair of me to dismiss it as crap; after
all, the vast majority of this popcorn flick is played largely with tongue
planted firmly in cheek, and maybe Hensleigh deserves some credit for
keeping his audience engrossed after starting like a bad Steven Seagal
Thomas Jane plays Frank Castle, an undercover FBI agent whose entire family
is wiped out by henchmen sent by Howard Saint (John Travolta). Saint is
a big shot crime boss from Tampa Bay whose own son was accidentally killed
during a typical last job storyline at the beginning of the
movie, and who is out for vengeance, pinpointing Castle as the ultimate
although Travoltas wife, the evil Livia (Laura Harring)
insists it is his entire congregation that should be eliminated.
The slaughter of Castles relations at a family gathering is actually
quite disturbing, though quite why his wife (Samantha Mathis) and son
(Marcus Johns) elected to make a dash for it from their unnoticed hiding
place is anyones guess! I mean, thats just ASKING for trouble, surely.
On a side note, Roy Scheider, who played Thomas Janes father, really
couldve done with a bigger boat
Anyway, silly cryptic film references aside, The Punisher
is really quite hilarious in places, filled with clichés, and is
very possibly the silliest action film I have ever seen. The violence
is less like the Marvel Comic book character it was based on and more
like that of Viz, or Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonsons Bottom.
Most of all though, as my colleague pointed out, this was very much video
game style carnage, complete with oofs and other such
noises, but without the ker-ching and points display when
you eliminate each bad guy.
Best moment of the entire film and the funniest is Mark
Collies brief but movie stealing appearance as the acoustic guitar
swinging Johnny Cash clone Harry Heck. If THAT doesnt make you smile,
I really dont know what will!
Marvel Comic purists will be delighted to learn that the skull insignia
that was so synonymous with the original cartoon character is still intact
in the form of a t-shirt given to Castle by his son on his birthday
well as a nice-but-ludicrous touch towards the films finale!
Ridiculous, but fun. 8/10
Editor's comment - I've seen both this and our other recent comic
strip adaptation, that of 'Hell Boy' and although both films have been
marked equally by our reviewers, it is this and the sheer action packed
energy that I felt deserving of more attention. This and of course a film
that really cannot claim to be taking itself seriously. I felt the onscreen
violence only got past the censor's in this case, due to its absurdly
and not really knowing when to call it a day.
I left the theatre throughly entertained, and then crashed my car, whoops
- I didn't want to do that.