The Punisher (2004)

R   |    |  Action, Crime, Drama


The Punisher (2004) Poster

An undercover FBI agent becomes a vigilante assassin and sets out to unleash his wrath upon the corrupt businessman who slaughtered his entire family at a reunion.

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6.5/10
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  • John Travolta and Laura Harring in The Punisher (2004)
  • Thomas Jane and Kevin Nash in The Punisher (2004)
  • Thomas Jane in The Punisher (2004)
  • John Travolta and Jonathan Hensleigh in The Punisher (2004)
  • Patricia Arquette and Thomas Jane at an event for The Punisher (2004)
  • Thomas Jane and Jonathan Hensleigh in The Punisher (2004)

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Director:

Jonathan Hensleigh

Writers:

Jonathan Hensleigh, Michael France

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User Reviews


30 October 2006 | Flagrant-Baronessa
7
| Old-school
Producers and distributors alike can try to market this as a superhero movie all they want but the fact is that at the end of the day The Punisher is an action movie – no more, no less. That is not to say it is a bad achievement, for the end product is fun, exhilarating and stylish. I do however feel it is extremely important to debunk the 'comic book' label since it is both unjustly applied and it will perhaps generate false expectations from the mainstream audience.

Although The Punisher is adapted from Marvel Comics, the R-rating alone should be blunt indicator of the path it intends to take. Half an hour into the film it still leaves us clueless and oblivious to the dark turn it will twist into. During which Thomas Jane undergoes an apt transformation of character from heartfelt family man on that one last undercover op to a hard-boiled, brooding vigilante who downs whiskey, swears, tortures and broods. The catalyst for this development is the brutal murder of his family and now he's out to get the hierarchy of villains (headed by John Travolta) – only he isn't just out for vengeance or justice – he's out to punish. In a corrupt city of thugs, Frank Castle becomes the judge, jury and executor.

What is so refreshing about Thomas Jane in the part of Punisher is that he is a sprawling surge of old school with a splash of Clint Eastwood protagonist – the detached, effortless action hero who is too cool for romantic interests, with hardcore one-liners and a merciless approach to duels. In this way, he is easily one of the most successful 'superhero' actors of the new millennium. But alas, Jane went unnoticed and Punisher did poorly at the box office probably BECAUSE it adopted this off-beat, old-school style to acting and action.

I also want to comment on said action, which was spectacular. Truth to be told, I have been waiting a long time to say that about a film. Usually it's the obligatory "the visuals are stunning" or "it's extremely fast-paced and kinetic" but here the sheer hand-to-hand combat is the film's goldmine because it moves back into close character mode instead of the epic scenarios that Batman, Superman and Spiderman dish out to keep out interest. It's gloriously gritty, graphic and dirty which unfortunately also begs the question of where the $33,000,000 budget went. Did they spend it all on late night taco runs?

For that matter, The Punisher is far from devoid of faults. Its fatal flaw stems, in part, from what made it a good film in the first place: its sparseness of effects, general minimalism and lack of superhero formula. Rather it is a model-kit assembled from seedy old-school revenge action movies, the type you'd sort of casually catch a bit of on TV one night.

7 out of 10

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Genres

Action | Crime | Drama | Thriller

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