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The Punisher (2004)

The Punisher (2004)



Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Writers: Jonathan Hensleigh, Michael France
Stars: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton
Reviewed By: Klash

Left for dead after his family is slaughtered in a retaliatory mob execution, FBI agent and former decorated U.S. Marine Frank Castle becomes a man driven by revenge.  Finding no assistance from a broken justice system that is incapable of prosecuting the guilty, Frank takes matters into his own hands and goes outside the law he swore to uphold.  Transforming himself into a merciless vigilante called the Punisher and armed with a lethal array of weaponry, Castle goes to war seeking vengeance on the corrupt organization that took everything from him.



Successfully bringing Marvel Comics gun wielding vigilante to the big screen has so far proven to be a very difficult mission.  The second of three films that have all failed at creating a successful origin story, this reboot seems to have been the most successful with fans.   Taking material from the popular comic book run titled ‘Welcome back, Frank.’, while also making some alterations to the characters origin story, the film does a decent job of  creating a violent revenge story.  The acting on a whole isn’t bad and Thomas Jane does a good job of transitioning the merciless Frank Castle from the pages of comic books to the big screen.  On the other hand, John Travolta, as the powerful and corrupt businessman Howard Saint, doesn’t quite seem menacing enough as Castle’s adversary.  As for the supporting cast, Will Patton as Quentin Glass, Saint’s right hand man, is the only one is memorable.



So there you have the few good points, here’s where the bad starts to come into play.  What could have been a really good origin story becomes a circus of events until the final scenes of the film.  Even at that point, there are some questionable moments involving a used car lot and a massive amount of explosives.  This film had all the usual suspects contributing to its failure: writing/directing, creative liberties, editing, casting, and large budget cuts.  Here are a couple of examples:



A key plot scene was cut from the theatrical release which leaves the viewer confused as to how Howard Saint found out who Frank Castle was and where the Castle family were living.  Also, The original opening sequence of the film was supposed to explain Castle’s military skills and background but was never filmed.  Instead, the films first scene opens into what feels like a scene that was already in progress.  Finally, if you have no desire to watch the movie you can just watch the trailer and piece the entire film together in just over two minutes.



Being a fan of a majority of the Marvel Comics properties that have made it to film I find this failure to be disappointing.  Even though the Punisher isn’t as ‘popular’ as the Avengers or a lot of the other solo acts, there’s still the opportunity for a really good movie here.  Now that Marvel holds the rights to the character once again, they need to give the fans who like the gritty, violent, darker characters a chance to see some justice served.

Go to YouTube and watch the independent short film titled “Dirty Laundry” starring Thomas Jane, it’ll give a better idea of what could be done if given a chance.  Rating: 1 ½ guys.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • big paulie January 25, 2013, 10:25 am

    i enjoyed this version of the punisher2004 alot !….better cast and story than previous version w/dolph…but i enjoyed it too !

  • Klash January 25, 2013, 11:56 am

    I agree with you Paulie, this reboot although not great was still the best of the three. I’d go so far as to say the 1989 film with Lundgren was even better than the 2008 reboot with Ray Stevenson.

  • Chris January 26, 2013, 12:03 pm

    I dunno, this one gets hated on a lot, but I really enjoyed the hell out of this one. I think it’s actually still a lot better than several of today’s comic book movies. I was actually disappointed when they decided to do that third reboot instead of continuing this story, but eh, oh well…

  • Klash January 26, 2013, 6:50 pm

    I share your disappointment Chris. Unfortunately the list of production issues trumped any chances of a sequel. Not to mention Thomas Jane walking away due to creative differences. The chances of another Punisher film in the near future seem rather grim.

  • Tracy January 28, 2013, 2:04 pm

    I did a write up on all three a while back and while this one was just meh in my opinion, I did find it very interesting how the whole car lot scene played out like a western….right down the music. Ray Stevenson was the best Punisher, but the villains were so over the top corny in that one, it made it painful to watch. For some reason they can’t seem to get this character right. Hopefully a future iteration will. Also….I think The Punisher would be served well as a series on HBO or Showtime. Or even Cinemax since they have no problems with graphic violence.

  • klash January 28, 2013, 8:54 pm

    Hey Tracy,

    I also thought the ending to the second film was well done, although Travolta’s acting during his death scene with the whole shaking and moaning made me cringe as it was pretty bad. And while I think Ray Stevenson did an alright job in the 2008 reboot I have to disagree about him being the best Punisher. I do agree though that the movie as a whole was very painful to watch, and in my opinion most likely ended any thoughts of yet another reboot for some time to come. As for a cable series that wouldn’t be a bad place to start, and as you pointed out there would most likely be less of a problem with the violence that is associated with the character.

  • qiang June 5, 2013, 1:01 am

    This man is really handsome, I like him,

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