In case you didn't already know, 2004's The Punisher is a film loosely based off of the Marvel Comics character of the same name. And when I say loosely based off of, I'm mean loosely based off of. The Punisher is Frank Castle, a former FBI agent who, after his wife and children are killed by the mob, dresses up as a skull and kills every person that ever was bad.
However, while this premise was perfectly fine and had no real flaws that had to be ironed out to make this a movie, the plot was changed anyway. Here, Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) goes undercover and gets the son of mob boss Howard Saint (John Travolta) killed, so Saint has Castle's family killed and leaves Frank himself for dead.
One of the biggest problems right off the bat is that Frank is treated as if he has superpowers. In the scene where is family is killed (And no, this isn't a spoiler) Frank himself gets shot in both of his legs, his arm, his chest, gets blown up, passes out in the ocean and survives. He should be really dead after all of that, especially seeing as how, later on, a Hulk-like man named The Russian (Kevin Nash) dies after he falls down some stairs. Frank shouldn't have super-human durability because The Punisher doesn't have superpowers in the comics and if he really doesn't have powers then he should be dead.
|Yes, that's his costume. A t-shirt.|
But we shouldn't really don't mind however, because Travolta's Saint is probably one of the worst villains in movie history. As far as I can tell, he isn't even from The Punisher's Rouge Gallery. Saint spends most of the movie in the background as Frank goes after Saint's best friend, Quentin Glass (Will Patton) and his wife Livia (Laura Harring). When we do actually see Saint, he's getting pushed around by two Cuban brothers, in a subplot that does nothing but confuse the audience and make Saint look like a pushover. Travolta doesn't help as he clearly phones in his performance, delivering each line with a bored monotone.
|Man, Waldo pumped some iron.|
The film does have some bright spots though. The scene where Frank's family gets gunned down is effective, if it wasn't undercut by the unintended humor of Frank being able to survive anything. There's a very good fight scene with a Russian assassin Saint hired to kill Frank, that's both brutal and hilarious. And as I said earlier, while it would have been nice to get some insight as to what was going on, Frank's plan is actually pretty impressive.
|"Somewhere, out there, there's a better movie for me."|