So Punisher War Zone was released on DVD recently!
Does it hit the mark? Here’s what I thought…
Is it a GREAT comic book movie like Iron Man or The Dark Knight?
Probably not. But on DVD in the comfort of my own home it was fun! I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of the Garth Ennis version of the Punisher, so I might be biased (or perhaps I could be even more picky…) Is it a perfect adaptation of the Punisher? No. But its got both hits and misses. It might not hit the mark as totally obliterate the target.
The best element? Ray Stevenson. He literally looks like a Tim Bradstreet illustration brought to life. Visually, he’s every bit the Punisher. The big problem is that he does not get nearly the dialogue and screen time he deserves. This movie would have really benefited from some narration by Stevenson so make the movie more about the Punisher. Part of the plot revolves around serious mistake Frank makes and how he tries to rectify it, but it’s mostly lost as the movies moves to the inevitable bloodbaths that follow.
There’s a good bit of nods to various comic incarnations, mainly made up of supporting character appearances.
The big one of course is Jigsaw, played with fun over-the-top abandon by Dominic West. He definitely makes for a better villain than John Travolta’s rather bland mob boss from the previous film. One of his goons, "Pitsy" shares the name of a character from the comics, though he’s nowhere near as vicious. And his son bears a passing resemblence to Ink, from the same storyline. We aslo get a bizzare watered down version of McGinty from the "Kitchen Irish" story are. But again, rather than the brutal villain of the comics he’s the leader of a "Urban Free Flow" gang of meth-heads. Ironically, the best supporting villain is in fact an original creation for the film. Jigsaw’s brother, "Looney Bin Jim" played by Doug Hutchison who does a nice job as your classic unhinged maniac murderer.
On the "good guys" side we have Microchip, played by the always fun Wayne Knight, who may not look the part of the comic book Microchip, but does the best he can with the limited part he gets. And of course there’s Detective Martin Soap, the perennial loser and one man "Punisher Task Force," played by Dash Mihok . He’s nowhere near as pathetic or creepy as in the comics, and serves as a semi-sidekick for Frank. There’s also the upstanding Special Agent Paul Budiansky, played by Colin Salmon, meant to be a foil for Frank, but who to me just felt unnecessary and I though just took time away from Frank himself.
So what’s the real selling point of this film? And what will likely make or break it for most viewers?
My good friend, Bill "Fresh Monkey" Murphy, put it best: "It’s like a Horror Movie."
And that’s what Punisher: War Zone is. The kills and gore are graphic and right in line with what you’d see Jason, Freddy or Leatherface dishing out. Only this time instead of an evil maniac slaughtering dumb/annoying teens, you have a self-righteous maniac slaughtering criminals.
All in all, if you enjoy over the top Horror Movies you might in fact enjoy Punisher: War Zone. It’s nowhere near perfect, but there were plenty of action scenes and kills that look like they leapt off the comic book page to keep me entertained.
After all, it should be easier to cheer on Frank as he slaughters criminals and murderers than it is to cheer on an evil murderer as he kills "innocent" victims, eh?
‘Til Next Time!