Reviewed by: Zachary Winn
|Featuring:||Thomas Jane (Dreamcatcher, The Sweetest Thing)
John Travolta (Basic, Swordfish, Battlefield Earth, Grease)
Rebecca Romijn (X2: X-Men United, Femme Fatale)
Laura Elena Harring (Willard)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Roy Scheider (Jaws)
|Director:||Jonathan Hensleigh (Gone in 60 Seconds, Armageddon, Con Air)|
|Producer:||Avi Arad (Spider-Man 2, Daredevil, The Hulk, X2: X-Men United, Blade), Gale Anne Hurd (The Hulk, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Clockstoppers)|
|Distributor:||Lions Gate Films|
The premise of this movie is pretty simple. Bad guy drug dealer Howard Saint (John Travolta) loses a family member. He views the Punisher/Frank Castle as responsible. After deciding to take revenge, Saint’s wife decides they should get his whole family. Castle, the last of his family, barely survives. The rest pretty much writes itself.
The acting, for the most part, is well done. The glaring exception being the over the top villain played by Travolta. All of the characters are well fleshed out, and are not merely one dimensional players existing only to serve as plot devices.
The theme of revenge serves as both the basis for the story and the topic of much of the dialogue. Extreme violence and gore, including graphic torture, are prevalent throughout. People are stabbed, shot, run over, strangled, and burned. This is all presented graphically. / Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
Matthew 5:39—“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Eight uses of the f-word, six instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, as well as around 20 other various obscenities. There are sexual situations throughout the movie (some between married people), including nudity at a strip club. Women are dressed in revealing ways throughout. Two men kiss.
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Marvel’s unstoppable vigilante, THE PUNISHER, hits the screen in a new action thriller that introduces a comic book hero unlike any other. The Punisher brings to the screen one of Marvel’s top-selling solo comic books and a marquee character whose popularity parallels that of Marvel stars X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. The Punisher walks through the world we all know, a world darkened by war, crime, cruelty, and injustice. He has no superpowers to battle the evil he sees—only his fierce intelligence, his years of combat experience and, above all, his iron determination to avenge those wronged by society’s villains. A gritty tale of revenge and redemption, The Punisher is that rare thing—a work of entertainment that speaks powerfully to its times.
The Punisher marks the directorial debut of Jonathan Hensleigh, renowned screenwriter of genre blockbusters ‘The Rock,’ ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Die Hard: With a Vengeance.’ Tom Jane (‘Dreamcatcher,’ 61*, ‘Deep Blue Sea’) stars as Frank Castle, the Punisher, squaring off against superstar John Travolta (“Pulp Fiction,” “Face/Off”) as the story’s formidable villain, Howard Saint. Co-starring are Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, X-2: X-Men United) as Joan, a woman climbing back from a troubled past; Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive) as Howard Saint’s vengeful wife, Livia; and Samantha Mathis (American Psycho) as Castle’s wife Maria. It is produced by Marvel Studios’ CEO Avi Arad (The Hulk, Spider-Man, X-Men) and producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Hulk, Aliens, Terminator2).
Frank Castle (Tom Jane) is a man who has seen too much death in his life, first as a Delta Force Op and later as an FBI special agent. He has managed to beat considerable odds, and is finally moving out of the field and into a normal life with his wife, Maria (Samantha Mathis), and young son, Will (Marcus Johns). On his final assignment, Castle plays his undercover role perfectly, but the operation spins out of control and a young man, Bobby Saint (James Carpinello), is inadvertently killed. This places the FBI on the wrong side of Tampa businessman Howard Saint (John Travolta) and his glamorous wife, Livia (Laura Harring). Notwithstanding their glossy social profile, the Saints are no genteel Florida couple; behind their copious wealth are violent beginnings, underworld ties—and a chilling capacity for brutality. Inflamed by the death of their son, the Saints are willing to risk their newfound legitimacy on a wholesale mission of blood-vengeance. Castle’s worst nightmare is about to come true, as Howard Saint and his lieutenants unleash hell at the Castle family reunion.
But Castle, to his everlasting torment, survives. Until this moment, he has spent his entire life adhering strictly to the law. However, experience has taught him that the law cannot adequately penalize the people who murdered his family. Drawing upon all he has learned in 20 years, Castle sets in motion a plan to punish the murderers. He takes up residence in a dilapidated tenement building in Tampa’s industrial district, where his fellow tenants include Joan (Rebecca Romijn), a waitress at a nearby diner who is trying to put her life back on track; Dave (Ben Foster), a gangly twenty-something with a face full of piercings; and Mr. Bumpo (John Pinette), a rotund gourmand who rarely leaves his home.
In preparing his revenge, Castle thoroughly familiarizes himself with the habits and routines of the Saint family. He traces the movements not only of Howard and Livia, but also their surviving son, John (James Carpinello), and Howard’s second-in-command, lawyer Quentin Glass (Will Patton). Armed with this essential knowledge, Castle launches his first salvo against Saint’s business interests. Stunned that Castle is not only alive but causing him harm, Howard Saint marshals his forces in an attempt to shut Castle down. He soon turns to the underworld’s network of hired assassins, recruiting the laconic Memphis legend Harry Heck (Mark Collie) as well as the blonde behemoth known only as the Russian (Kevin Nash).
Castle’s plan is proceeding apace, but his mission has the unintended effect of placing his fellow tenement dwellers in danger. Yet Joan, Dave and Mr. Bumpo rally for their neighbor, even at great personal risk. This makeshift family—forgotten men and women with no one to protect them—brings Castle the one thing he least expects: redemption. His personal goal achieved, Castle realizes that his life’s work has just begun. As The Punisher, he will provide justice for ordinary people and exact retribution from society’s villains.”