Punisher: War Zone – Review

18 Oct

Who was the guy that the Avengers didn’t want in their group? Who is the antihero who has no qualms with killing any villain who gets in his way? Of course it’s the Punisher, aka Frank Castle. He’s a a controversial character who has had a few movie attempts before this one, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Punisher: War Zone is Castle’s best outing on film.

After Frank Castle’s (Ray Stevenson) family was murdered by gangsters after witnessing an execution, all hope of the American justice system is abandoned as he takes the law into his own hands. One particular excursion into the criminal underworld ends with Castle accidentally killing an undercover FBI agent and him  wounding the gangster Billy Russoti’s (Dominic West) face beyond repair. Russoti, who now goes by the name Jigsaw, uses his new features to strike fear into the hearts of the city. Now the Punisher has to work overtime keeping the FBI off his back and make sure Jigsaw receives “proper justice.”

I didn’t really have high hopes for this movie going into it. I pretty much had it in my head that the 2004 version of The Punisher was good enough and we didn’t need another one. Then I actually watched this one and couldn’t believe how much fun I had. THIS is the Punisher. It sticks close enough to the original story that it should please fans of the comic books a lot more than the previous films.

 

There is a whole lot of over the top violence and action in this that, to me, makes it impossible not to love. Watching the Punisher mow down villains like they were nothing is absolutely satisfying. In the 2004 version, I didn’t really get a whole lot of this. In War Zone, it truly is all out war with the Punisher against Jigsaw and his entire army of criminals. No problem, and it makes for great entertainment.

To be clear, this is not a sequel to the film from 2004. This is a much needed reboot I think. For one, Ray Stevenson is a better Frank Castle. Thomas Jane did a great job with the acting, but Stevenson has a much rougher edge and a much more intimidating demeanor. This guy looks huge, especially when he’s wearing the kevlar protection. What bad guy wouldn’t be frightened of this guy? The only problem is that his acting seems a little stale at times. Dominic West is so into his role as Jigsaw. He walks across the screen like he owns the place, filled with murderous rage. The makeup looks great and I think every scene Jigsaw was in, he’s the scene stealer.

 

The movie’s cinematographer, Steve Gainer, looks like he got a lot of inspiration from Stephen Goldblatt, who was the director of photography for Batman Forever. The neon lights against the dirt of the back alleys and seedy buildings of New York look great and contrast wonderfully. It also gives the movie a comic book like style that I think works better than the realistic version of the Punisher.

Punisher: War Zone is the definition of a pleasant surprise. I didn’t just like this movie, I actually loved this movie. It’s filled with action, gore, and dark comedy making this the perfect Punisher adaptation. It has developed a cult following over the few years that it has been released, even though it should have a much wider following.

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