After enduring all 124 long minutes of this ode to cruelty, you'll feel
punished. THE PUNISHER -- yet another bad movie based on a comic book series
-- stars DREAMCATCHER's Thomas Jane as Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher. This
hard R-rated movie will have even veteran moviegoers squirming in their seats
during some of the gruesome torture sequences. In our audience, a few of the
most vocal members laughed the loudest when the level of sadism was the
highest. THE PUNISHER is the directorial debut of Jonathan Hensleigh, a writer
whose last two pictures were ARMAGEDDON and THE SAINT. The script by THE
PUNISHER is by Hensleigh and Michael France, one of the three writers for THE
Frank is a comic book hero without superpowers but with luck and abilities that
would make James Bond jealous. But, unlike Bond, Frank isn't interested in
cars or girls, only in revenge, oops, I mean punishment. After he kills a son
of mob boss Howard Saint (John Travolta), Saint's wife, Livia (Laura Harring),
demands that Frank's entire family, meaning every man, woman and child in his
large extended family be slaughtered. The massacre occurs at a big family
gathering of several dozen Castles with only Frank surviving, just barely.
The movie lumbers along between scenes of intense gore. The acting is wooden
with Jane playing a by-the-numbers action hero. His attempt, however, easily
outshines Ben Affleck's work in DAREDEVIL, another bad movie based on a comic
book. Are there any original story ideas left in Hollywood? Travolta merely
replays his part from SWORDFISH.
THE PUNISHER clearly wants to be taken as something of a PULP FICTION-type of
action comedy. Every once in a while, the dialog does get a little snappy.
"Go with God," one of Frank's friends tells him as Frank leaves to create his
personal wave of death and destruction. "God is going to sit this one out,"
Frank replies. I'd advise sitting this one out too. THE PUNISHER is a
mean-spirited movie that doesn't deserve the big office it will undoubtedly
THE PUNISHER runs a long 2:04. It is rated R for "pervasive brutal violence,
language and brief nudity" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, almost 15, gave it ****, saying that Frank was a great, badass
action hero. He liked the way that the character was so different and that the
movie concentrated on the action rather the romance, which never happened. He
especially liked all of the weapons.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes