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.