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Who Punishes The Punisher?
No one.

17/07/09
I can imagine the scene now. Studio executives, sat in a dark and smoke filled board room, pouring over the box office takings for the 2004 Punisher film. "What we need is a sequel." One splutters through his cigar. "No" Says another, "We need a re-boot." "But we just basically did one" Says Jimmy Exec, junior executive, "We rebooted that unintentionally hilarious Dolph Lundgren one with this quite tepid one with John Travolta stinking up the screen every time he is on with his bad hair, bad acting and awful giant face!?" The room falls silent. It is too late, the die has been cast and a re-boot, it is.

So, I watched "Punisher: War Zone" at the weekend. If you havent seen it, the story is this. The Punisher kills some mobsters, one of whom is an undercover FBI agent. This causes the Punisher to be depressed and see the family his actions has left without a dad. He mopes around a bit and then kills more people. Meanwhile, Dominic West (McNulty from The Wire) plays a gangster who seems to be doing a bet for comic relief or something to see how long he can last talking like a man in New York who says "Cwoffee" or "I'm Walkin' here!" He in turn, is Punished and thrown into a glass smashing machine by The Punisher. He doesn't die, but is heavily disfigured. We then get a scene that is very reminiscent to Batman, with the mirror and the reaction to his newly rescued by plastic surgeon face. While I am talking about accents, there are also a gang of Irish free runners who run around scaling walls and leaping buildings. Sadly, their leader has the most unconvincing Irish accent I have ever heard. He should stick to running.

Anyway, I wont go through the whole plot, but what I will say is that it is crap, but with flashes of good action. The opening flare at the dinner table scene is good fun, but the rest of the film seems quite pedestrian.

It falls right in the middle of the Punisher films. It isnt as bad as the 1989 Punisher with Dolph, but it isnt as good as the 2004 one with the vastly superior Thomas Jane.

Ray Stevenson plays the Punisher in this one and just doesn't do it for me. He doesn't say a word until at least 30 minutes into the film and just looks unimpressive. He doesn't have the physical presence of Thomas Jane or Dolph, he does OK, but his part is just so underwritten, which is a surprise what with him being the Punisher and that's what the film's called, but he barely speaks in the 90 minutes and when he does you cant really hear what he is saying. It just isnt a very well written part.

Jigsaw on the other hand (Dominic West) seems to have been given all of the time they should have spent on The Punisher. He is given all the camp and screen time that Nicholson did in Batman, but he just doesn't use it to the same degree, he actually becomes quite annoying, so I suppose you could say he is just like Nicholson.

This filmmakers also uses that boring technique of lighting each scene with unique colours, so for instance, one room with have all greens in it, one will have reds and so on. This gets quite annoying after a while and has kind of been done to death.

The one thing it does really well, is the vast degree of excessive violence. In one scene someone is punched in the face so hard by the Punisher that his fist goes through the other side. Someone else is decapitated, loads of people have their necks broken, one gets impaled on a spike and then has their neck snapped for good measure and one gets his face blown off by a shotgun.

So, in conclusion, if you are interested in The Punisher, I would recommend the 2004 Thomas Jane version, as he is the perfect choice to play this part, but make sure you fast forward the John Travolta scenes. If however, you adore excessive violence and not much else, Punisher : War Zone is for you. If you like seeing a nude Punisher talking to himself in a sewer, I suggest the 1989 Dolph Lungren version.




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