The Punisher (2004) Poster


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A Pleasant Surprise
ccthemovieman-14 November 2005
I was surprised how good this movie was, not stupid as I figured. It's another one of those based-on-a-comic book hero films that seem to be popular nowadays (Hellboy, Batman, Sin City, Spiderman, Superman, etc.)

However, this was the not the cartoon-like film I expected. It was more of a pretty brutal revenge-crime movie. It's a rough movie, pure and simple.

Believable? Of course not. Some of the action is ludicrous but the most ridiculous of all - the fight against the huge Russian, is actually the most fun of the action scenes. The rest is just plain mean as the hero's entire family gets wiped out by gunman and "The Punisher" (Thomas Jane) goes after them after almost being killed himself.

A smart aspect of this film was inserting a bit of humor in it, such as the two nerds down the hallway who befriend "The Punisher."

The sometimes-juvenile but interesting action scenes, the diverse characters in here and the humor all combine to make this better than anticipated.

No, it's anything but a thinking man's movie, but it IS entertaining and harmless if you look at everything tongue-in-cheek.
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"Isn't science fun, Mickey?"
DarthBill20 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A fairly good adaptation of the Marvel Comics vigilante character originally introduced in the Spider-Man comic books.

Former soldier and FBI man Frank Castle (exit Dolph Lundgren, enter Baltimore native Thomas Jane of "Deep Blue Sea" and "Dream-Catcher", who's about six or seven inches shorter than Dolph Lundgren but still pretty buffed up and also a naturally blond man having dyed his hair black to match the character's appearance in the comics) has retired from the action and is looking forward to living a quiet life with his wife and kid. While attending a family reunion at the beach (Roy Scheider plays his dad) Frank's family is attacked by assassins sent by Howard Saint (John Travolta) to avenge the death of one of his sons from Frank's last mission. In a shot similar to the original "Mad Max" (1979), Frank's wife and son are brutally run over with a giant truck while his father, brothers and in laws are gunned down. After being beaten to a pulp and shot in the chest and nearly blown to bits, Frank is saved by a local and nursed back to health. Naturally, he is enraged at the heartless murder of his family and goes after Howard saint, his wife, son, and secretly gay lawyer, thirsting for revenge. He sets up his base of operations in a run down building with three misfit neighbors - a sexy but unloved waitress, a guy with lots of piercings in his face, and an over weight Asian guy.

In many ways closer to the comic book than the earlier film, this one manages to get the skull shirt in there and remembers to at least mention that Frank was originally a soldier before going and making him a cop/FBI guy. Thoug Thomas Jane is not as physically imposing as Dolph Lundgren, he still manages to be a fairly menacing yet sympathetic figure. John Travolta delivers his usual joyful villain routine. Rebecca R-Stamos of the X-Men films (and yes, I know she's separating from her husband John) plays the sexy but unloved waitress who's spent the last few years trying to keep undesirable men out of her panties but once she gets an eyeful of Frank she wants to get into his pants because he's a strong, confident Alpha male who sticks up for the underdog and tries to steer Frank away from his suicide new life style. Rebecca is okay in this role, certainly no worse than any other comic book movie love interest.

One thing that surprised me about this film was how much humor was in it, whether it was Frank's fight with a giant blond Russian thug or his torturing the informant to be by threatening to blow torch him while actually burning a thing of meat while poking him in the back with an ice pop ("You are not a nice person."). Also worth noting is Frank's response to being told that obviously he's upset: "I used to get upset when I had a flat tire... when a plane was delayed... when the Yankees won the series..." Still, despite this humor, the film is never as ridiculously unbalanced as "Daredevil" or as disconnected as "Hulk" (both released in 2003). I was also expecting a little more violence, but all in all I was satisfied with what I got.

So far this is probably the best of the non-X-Men/Spider-Man Marvel movies. Of course, studios have a tendency to NOT give the lesser known characters a suitable running time to establish who they are because they ARE lesser known and try to compensate by making them fast paced. Once studios learn not to do this, better superhero films will become more common.
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Punisher too dark?
VelvetRevolver24 January 2005
Someone said that this movie was too dark for the genre...He must not have ever read any of the source material. The Punisher may be one of the darkest comic book characters ever created. This film and especially Thomas Jane, get that. This film is one of the better in the genre, because it sticks to the source better than most.

Yes, I am a fanboy. But I am a fan of action movies too. This movie took from some of the classics but made it their own. Its too bad that spiderman or superman fans cant see past the all superheros must be good guys...The Punisher is a different type of hero. The kind you wish we would never need, but also one that you may want.
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Classic Film making
Damien23 February 2005
Wonderful Camera work and acting.

There are no flashy CGI effects in this movie or fictional superpowers. It relies more on traditional technique's and delivers beautifully.

The director has done a superb job with the severely underfunded budget taking us to a realistic location that serves two purposes cheaper production costs and somewhere original that looks and feels real. After all that is what the punisher movie is about, making a comic book character fit into the real world with realistic situations.

This guy could be anyone out there with a vendetta up against believable enemies. There are no superpowers on show here just a guy with a vendetta up against a powerful man that wants him killed who can afford to hire realistic killers with personality I might add, to do the job

This goes down as one of my favorite films of all time mainly because of the beautiful camera work and realistic gritty style action. I'll be definitely keeping an eye out for this director's work in the future.
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GREAT MOVIE! vigilante-style justice done right
Paul (assman200)4 March 2006
"The Punisher" is a shining example of revenge and vigilante-style justice done right. It's also yet another comic book adaptation done properly. I thought this movie was one of the best I have seen in a long time. In the compendium of comic movies, this falls just shy of the two X-Men movies and Spider-Man but easily surpasses Batman, Batman Begins, Superman and The Hulk. The fact that it is an R-rated movie will kill any possible chance of decent box-office numbers, but it was a necessary step to take, and the quality of the movie just makes up for it. Hopefully this was Thomas Jane's breakout role, as he was outstanding and has the potential to be a contender to Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Colin Farrell, and Matt Damon as the next big action star. If you like action movies, check out this movie. If you like comic book adaptations, check out this movie. Heck, if you just like movies in general, The Punisher is two hours well-spent. Like Thomas Jane himself says, "Frank Castle is dead. Long live The Punisher."
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I enjoyed everything about this dark tale.
bumblebeeman77719 April 2005
The Punisher put my faith back into revenge movies. The action in this film is unbelievable and grim. I found myself not wanting the story to end. Many of the movies based on superheroes in a comic book tend not to sticks gritty and real. This one was and then some. The movie has surpassed my expectation and I certainly look forward Punisher 2.

The next film sets itself up for a kick butt start. They should take a page from X2 or the Lethal Weapon series and just open the next film with a wild battle. You can grab the viewer right away and still tell your full story right after. I hope the entire cast as well as the director returns because they crafted one quality origin story here. In summary, I enjoyed everything about this dark tale.
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Another amazing Marvel Flick
Bryan5 October 2004
This is the second version of 'The Punisher', and while I enjoy the original that starred Dolph Lungren, I LOVED this one. Thomas Jane was amazing, he definitely had the essence of the tortured Frank Castle down perfect. The acting in this movie was extremely well done, a lot more well done than many people (critics) have given it credit for. I think that John Travolta even though he can be a bit annoying at times played a great bad guy, and his character was sinister, and cruel, but loving at the same time. Will Patton I think almost stole the show with his portrayal of his character Quentin Glass, because he had a charisma about him that was equally disturbing. It was a great movie, not just 'great for what it was'. The story was good, the stunts, and the violence amazing, and I really hope they greenlight for a sequel.
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One of 2004's Best Movies - GREAT revenge film
UMWolvie24422 May 2004
This wonderful revenge film was acted and directed with complete conviction but still found the time to kick ass. This is one of the best movies I have seen this year and I go to at least one movie a week. The acting was good. I would recommend this movie to everyone. I thought it was going to be some type of 80's action movie, but it turned out to be great movie aimed towards an older crowd. The beginning is a bit slow, but the action really keeps you focused. Thomas Jane did an excellent job as the Punisher and Travolta's performance was much better than I was expecting. This is a movie that thinks so deeply about its conflicts and decisions that there are times when the audience itself feels like it has a personal stake in the outcome. This is by far the best film in the reinvigorated sub-genre of comic-book-to-screen conversions.
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Very good, not too graphic...
ReillyDavidson112925 August 2008
I'm going to try my best to list no spoilers, promise... This is by far my absolute favorite Comic Book movie in my library. The simple fact that it was filmed with no CGI (according to the bonus features of the DVD), and the way Thomas Jane portrayed the character, this movie SHOULD have been a Blockbuster hit, maybe, JUST MAYBE! Had this movie been released around this time when you see nothing but Superhero or Comic Book movies, it would be a better fit in terms of timing.

Thomas Jane as The Punisher/Frank Castle, perfect! His wife and son actors... well not so much. The father, no not really... John Travolta as the bad guy, I haven't seen a Travolta bad buy since Face/Off and this movie just proves that he can play the character you simply hate and want to die in the movie.

I have no idea what all the negative buzz was around this movie, I'm more disappointed after watching the Red Band trailer of WarZone (which I will be boycotting BTW) than I ever will be of this movie.

This movie is a genius action flick.
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Gritty, Low-Tech Action Film that Works...
Ben Burgraff (cariart)11 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Audiences have become so accustomed to being overloaded by CGI effects in recent comic book adaptations that the idea of a tougher, leaner approach seemed to catch viewers and critics off-guard, when this latest adaptation of "The Punisher" premiered. Sadly, most critics chose to ignore the very qualities that made this film so special, never accepting that the story is closer in spirit to "Sin City" than "Spider-Man" or "Daredevil". Now that the film is available on DVD, I invite everyone to take a second look at this dark tale of the fine line one man walks between Justice and may be surprised by how good it really is! The film is carefully constructed to allow viewers an opportunity to see dedicated undercover cop Frank Castle in action, and to understand the caring, loving family man Frank Castle was...before mob boss Howard Saint, and his equally ruthless wife, Livia (played by a remarkably low-key John Travolta and Laura Harring), takes vengeance for their son's death by ordering the brutal execution of Castle's entire family. As conceived, with total conviction, by Thomas Jane, Castle is so completely traumatized that he 'lets go' of what remained of his compassion, and becomes a human weapon, devoid of pity, living only to see justice done, in equal measure to the crime.

This is not someone you can easily 'warm up' to, and as the movie evolves into a series of executions, you may actually start to feel more sympathy toward the Saints and their henchman, Quentin Glass (the ever-watchable Will Patton) than in Castle. But screenwriter Michael France, and co-writer and director Jonathan Hensleigh, both well-versed in the Marvel comic character, add three quirky 'innocents' (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ben Foster, and John Pinette), who Castle warms up to, somewhat, and must ultimately protect. He will never recover the compassion that he lost, but he realizes that for many being brutalized, he is the only hope they have, giving him a purpose to live for.

Unlike the earlier, Dolph Lundgren "Punisher", hampered by a minuscule budget and two-dimensional acting, this version makes the most of its small budget, with first-class acting (including a VERY welcome cameo by Roy Scheider), incredible stunt and pyrotechnic work, and a storyline that offers far more depth than you might expect in a comic book adaptation.

I sincerely hope a sequel is made, as this will be a film that will grow in stature as audiences realize how good it actually is!
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