guest in

The Punisher - Louis

polloi's picture

Ex-Delta Force Operative and FBI agent, Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) successfully completes his last pain-staking operation, resulting in the death of Bobby Saint (James Carpinello), son of reputed businessman, Howard Saint (John Travolta). His flawless career exists at the expense of spending time with his beloved family. Now relieved from duty, Castle joins his family in what would be a utopian "happily-ever-after", until a vengeful Howard Saint orders the execution of all of Castles family members. After brushing death, Frank Castle decided to administer punishment to all of those involved in the murder of his family, rejecting the laws he previously proudly adhered to and becoming "The Punisher". Amidst the rampant flurry of production studios buying up rights to extortionate numbers of comic book characters for film interpretations, we are presented with "The Punisher" that arrives during a transient period of superhero on-screen antics. Few of these films have successfully made the transition from page to screen that satisfies both fans and the commercial market (e.g. Daredevil, Hulk etc.) and "The Punisher" is no exception.

In its entirety, the film has mounting tension like a Scooby-Doo re-run. We have seen the scenario before and presents nothing surprising and original. I believe that our expectations were lowered going into this movie with this thought in mind, plus the shoddy "non-costume" and the tacky deep n depraved VO in the trailer didn't help too much either. I realised whilst watching this movie, that there is nothing enthralling about a guy who has nothing to lose and in essence, Frank Castle is just an average guy, walking the streets, pissed off and vengeful with no appeal to his cause. Or maybe I am just being heartless, after all, his family are all dead, but "The Punisher" is the only Marvel comic hero, that I cannot identify with " he isn"t conflicted, he has no fate or destiny to fulfil, he just exists, constantly in vigilante mode and it gets really boring. During the middle of the movie was a constant static state of latency that started as soon as Thomas Jane puts on the costume, right up until the start of the final "storming the building" scene. There aren"t many peaks and troughs in the story, with the only events evoking the slightest of heartbeats being the sparsely sporadic attacks by Saint"s henchmen.

In terms of casting, I was really confused. To me, it was like an SNL parody of itself. John Travolta proved once again that his performance diversity is limited to the numerical range of binary "the guy can be a terrific actor, but picks some terrible roles" it was unnecessary for Travolta to be cast as Saint as he didn't really get enough screen-time or character development for me to actually start disliking him as the bad guy - he really was poorly exploited in this movie as was the appearance of Roy Schieder as Frank Castle"s father. It felt as though Schieder being cast was supposed to be some kind of in-joke that only the true fans would understand, but in actuality he was just there acting, it was somewhat surreal. What was the point" If I am missing something here, please, enlighten me! As for Thomas Jane being cast as "The Punisher", I felt that he did the best he could with the calibre of the material that was given (this holds true for all of the cast members actually). The film may well serve as one of those movies you buy just to laugh at, for instance, the John Travolta-Laura Harring love scene saxophone solo made the movie look like a third-rate channel Five erotic thriller. The random Black guy who is there to disperse advice when Castle is stranded, but you never see him again. The quick extinction of shock at Castle"s resurrection and most notably the "rent-a-Mariachi" diner pose scene that looked like a reject from "Saturday Night Fever"!

Admittedly, the film was not that bad, albeit predictable. Its redeeming feature (and failing) is the notion that he is not really a superhero at all, which although it allows him to express real emotions and real actions, the fact that he is bound by the rules of reality makes this film simply dull and unimportant. Overall Rating: 4 out of 10 Costume Transition: 3 out of 10 Man to Myth Transition: 3.5 out of 10

"You are one dumb son of a bitch. Bringing a knife to a gunfight."