Here at ComedyFilmNerdsdotcom.com we have established the obvious: we’re nerds. And it’s often assumed that nerds love comic books. And you know what? We’re OK with that here because with us, it happens to be true. But if there were one thing I could say about the movie “Punisher: War Zone”, it would be that there isn’t all that much nerdy about it.
For the most part, it’s pretty serious about its comic book-ness, including the dark premise and obvious violent nature. Of course, it is about Frank Castle, an ex-special ops guy who, after his family is killed after witnessing a murder, pledges vengeance on all crime and criminals. In this movie, Castle accidentally kills an undercover FBI agent while, while, killing a mansion full of organized crime lords. So instead of just doing better research of his targets, Castle decides to throw in the towel because he killed “one of the good guys”. Of course, we all know vengeance doesn’t retire, and the Punisher is soon back on the job to finish what he started.
Frank Castle, aka, The Punisher, is played rather effectively by Ray Stevenson, who, quite frankly, I don’t know. He was in the HBO series “Rome”, and perhaps first notably in America in the film “King Arthur” with Clive Owen a few years ago. Nonetheless, he has a great brooding presence, yet can show us Frank Castle’s pain of losing his family. He also has a great voice; deep, a little gravel, and really gets your attention. I thought he was a fine Punisher.
Some other more recognizable faces are here, though. Julie Benz found some more time while on break from “Dexter” to play the widow of the agent accidentally killed by Castle. Though for all she did in this film, she could have shot her scenes in the amount of time she spent at craft service one day on the set of “Dexter”. Two-dimensional much? Oh, and she gets to say one of the groan-worthy lines, “Who punishes the Punisher?” Ugh.
Wayne Knight appears as The Punisher’s tech/weapons guy, Micro. You remember him as Newman, Jerry’s devious mailman. And then the villain is Jigsaw, played by Dominic West. You’ll recognize him from any number of decent character roles. The same can be said for Doug Hutchinson as Jigsaw’s brother Loony Bin Jim. Awesome name, right? He’s a great character actor who’s been in tons of stuff, including his memorable role in “The Green Mile”.
Most the actors are ok, except the villains here are all caricatures of New York hoods and gangster types with overly thick accents and all quite over the top. It doesn’t really fit the rest of the film, which is dark, violent and fairly serious in tone. Not to say there isn’t any humor. Is movie wins the award for most amusing rocket launcher scene. Overkill was never more entertaining.
And speaking of violent; I get that this character is all about killing, gun fire and general mayhem, but this movie plays out a lot like a splatter film with guns. No less than three heads are shown graphically exploding as the result of various gunshot blasts. It’s really messy. It had a little more than I was expecting, and I’m not what I’d call a wuss about movie gore.
Other than Ray Stevenson’s performance, and a general tone that fits the character, this movie is not much more than a rental. If you’re a fan of the ultra-violent revenge film, this is all you. Though I must say, it certainly has to be a step up from the version with John Travolta. But then, what isn’t?
– Neil, your average movie goer, not expecting this to be nominated for an Oscar.