Punisher: War Zone is the 2008 reboot of the previously reviewed 2004 version of The Punisher starring Thomas Jane. Here, The Punisher is played by Ray Stevenson. This time around Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher mistakenly kills an undercover police officer while trying to take out mob boss Billy (Dominic West). After being horribly disfigured by The Punisher and taking the named Jigsaw, he goes after the family of the officer Frank killed, forcing The Punisher into action.
You'd think with the fact that he is pretty much a walking action scene, The Punisher would have better luck with movies. After a failed film in the 80s starring Dolph Lundgren (Betcha didn't know that existed, huh?) and the mildly successful 2004 one, The Punisher still hadn't found the fame that most other comic book heroes were getting at the time. So, with this reboot, The Punisher got bloodier, crasser and meaner, in order to appeal more to fans of the comic. It didn't work. The film bombed at the box office and the movie itself. Well...
|Don't mess with The Punisher. He's pretty constipated.|
The acting is very weak. Stevenson is boring as The Punisher. His tough guy act hits all the marks cliched tough guy acts usually do. He talks in a deep voice, but he's good with kids. He kills people without flinching, but he really just needs a hug. West is awful as villain Jigsaw. His make-up makes him look like a deformed Sesame Street puppet and the hilariously bad over-the-topness of West doesn't help at all. He's more annoying than threatening. Julie Benz has an oddly small role as the wife of the dead undercover cop. She has less line than her 4-year old daughter and acts sad and judging of The Punisher for her entire small role. Surprisingly, Newman is the only good actor in the film. Wayne Knight plays The Punisher's tech-guy Microchip and gives the role way more then it needs and leaves you wanting more of his character, who has maybe one or two scenes.
The visuals are worse beyond just the bad Jigsaw make-up. The blood splatter from the shoot-outs is very noticeably fake and look strongly like ketchup. Plus, the action scenes are repetitive and boring and for a movie about a walking shoot-out, that is not a good thing. Most consist of The Punisher walking into a room with a lot of bad guys and breaking necks, shooting people into bloody spatters and blowing up the occasional car. There aren't many awesomely memorable kills and The Punisher is devoid of all likability in these scenes, with the so-called "humor" coming across as lame.
Though the director, Lexi Alexander, who makes the surprisingly well-made War Zone look great. She sets up some very beautiful shots, including one scene that takes place in a church, which is absolutely gorgeous. It's too bad the lackluster special effects and lame spirit held her down.
|Can't see his signature chest skull? Don't worry.|
You're not alone.