Punisher: War Zone

| December 9, 2008

by Clint Fletcher
Does anyone care about this movie? It made $4 million at the box office this weekend. It is to note that a movie starring Kirk Cameron made more money than the latest comic book flick. Is anyone even reading this right now?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how fucking hard is it to make a decent movie about a man that shoots bad guys??? This is now the third failed attempt in a row to bring vigilante Frank Castle to the big screen. I just don’t get it. First, they tried to make a B-movie out of it. Then, with the Thomas Jane version, they went with the camp (and a major boner for Travolta). This time, director Lexi Alexander (who?) attempts to make some sort of film noir piece out of the Punisher. And the final result is an uneven, bloody mess. Seriously, all you have to do is play it straight and deliver some badass, solid action and cool lines. I will admit, if there’s one thing Punisher: War Zone does deliver on, it’s unrelenting violence and gore. The opening action sequence is exquisite, featuring a dozen cool kills all wrapped into a nifty scene. For a second I thought the rest of the movie would hold up to the opening. I should’ve known better.
There are three big action sequences in the flick, and all of them are very impressive, showing major kahunas with the gore factor. But the bad news is, there’s only 3 action sequences. This is supposed to be a $40 million action movie!!! What the Hell? What did this money go into? With the exception of Julie Benz, all the actors are relatively unknown. And while we’re on the subject, the acting is almost unwatchable, particularly with the villain Jigsaw (Dominic West from The Wire). Shockingly, the best actor was Ray Stevenson, who didn’t get near as much screen time as he deserved. That’s right, the Punisher himself takes a backseat to the villains, ala Tim Burton’s Batman films. And the script has some of the worst lines I’ve heard all year, such as “you’re the Punisher, but who punishes you?” and “let me put you out of my misery.” There are also some absolutely absurd scenes that are just downright laughable, such as Jigsaw’s brother jumping around like a monkey and smashing mirrors, and Castle blowing up someone with a rocket launcher in mid-air. I expected much more from the creator of Prison Break and the writer of Iron Man. Its no secret to movie/comic nerds that this flick was plagued with problems from the beginning. It had been delayed numerous times due to re-shoots, and at one point there was a rumor that Lexi Alexander got replaced. We still don’t know what exactly happened, but now that the movie flopped and no one gives a rat’s ass, I’m sure we’ll learn soon enough.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but strictly by default, the dark Punisher: War Zone is the best Punisher movie yet. This is definitely a flick you should rent with your friends, laugh your ass off, and get really fucking wasted by taking shots every time there’s a head shot.
Grade: C

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