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The Punisher More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A damn good movie

Author: Martin Phipps from Taichung, Taiwan
5 November 2004

The Punisher is a damn good movie. This is coming from somebody who never understood the appeal of the Death Wish or Dirty Harry movies.

I suppose those movies would appeal to you if you believed that any consideration of human rights only served to interfere in carrying out of the righteous slaughter of the criminal element of society.

Nevermind the debate on capital punishment, let's just skip the arrest, the trial and jury deliberations and just shoot criminals on sight! Hell, for that matter, why should I take the time to recommend this movie at all when I obviously strongly disagree with the very notion that any one man has the right to decide who lives and who dies? Indeed, there is even the subtle implication in the phrase "this is not revenge but punishment" that suggests that The Punisher is acting out of righteous indignation when he plays the role of judge, jury and executioner!

Thing is, as I said, this is a good movie, probably too good for the genre which is why it, ironically, didn't do as well as might have been expected.

The basic problem, I suppose, was that this is not quite the same character as in the comics: in the comics, The Punisher was a Vietnam War vet who, after seeing his family shot down in a gangland style massacre in Central Park, snapped and started going after all criminals. I presume that he did so with the objective of, in the process, killing the people responsible for his family's death but, in the comics anyway, he didn't see it so much as his personal revenge but as some kind of war. The movie character is slightly different in the sense that Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), having apparently finished his military service, had been working for the FBI, hunting down the very criminals who ended up killing his family. In the movie, the murder of his family is no longer random and neither is his response. The result is a more thoughtful, more methodical character who can imagine more inventive ways of punishing you than simply blowing your head off.

The fact that Frank Castle didn't go straight to Howard Saint(John Travolta)'s home and blow his head off in act one was, no doubt, a source of great frustration to fans of the Death Wish and Dirty Harry movies. (Indeed, the character of the Punisher in the comics was no doubt inspired by these movies.)

I must confess that I, too, was a bit confused seeing Frank Castle taking pictures and carrying around a fake fire hydrant. But where is the satisfaction in seeing the villain die without first being made to suffer?

When Frank Castle's plan started to come together, I was satisfied to see that he had taken the time to play with his opponents head before blowing it off.

After all, when a man has killed your entire family, one has the obligation to go to the extra effort of attacking him on more than one level!

Of course, we are "treated" to scenes in which the villains are shown to be truly evil so that we don't feel bad about their demise (much in the same way that the wedding massacre was shown over and over again in Kill Bill 1 & 2 in the hopes that we wouldn't start routing for the "bad" guys): Howard Saint kills one of his own men, his wife (Laura Harring) orders the massacre of Frank Castle's family, his second-in-command (Will Patton) carries it out and his surviving son has the honour of actually (making an attempt at) killing Frank Castle in revenge for his brother's death.

Even so, Frank Castle's neighbour (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) asks the obvious question "What makes you any different from them?"

Well, he isn't any different. That was the point of the comics when he first appeared as a villain in the Spiderman series, a point that got lost along the way when he went on to get his own series. But in this movie I was able to root for this protagonist precisely because he was following the golden rule and doing unto the villains exactly as they had planned to do to him. Indeed, as I have already stated above, for Frank Castle to have killed Howard Saint in the first act would have made the rest of the movie not only anti-climactic but would have rendered the movie completely soulless with Frank Castle going on to kill random drug dealers with whom he didn't have a personal grudge.

Of course, with that in mind, I dread to think what a sequel to this movie would be like. Presumably, in a sequel, Frank Castle would be no different from the character in the comics, deciding who lives and who dies on the spot and without any sense of remorse, one way or the other. While I understand Thomas Jane's enthusiasm in wanting to make a sequel, I no sooner want to spend two hours watching the Punisher shoot people than I would want to watch a Hulk sequel which was merely two hours of "Hulk Smash!"

Of course, there is always the chance, should a Punisher sequel ever be made, that I might be pleasantly surprised, yet again. Maybe.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An excellent thriller again is "The Punisher"

Author: Dale Haufrect ( from Houston, Texas
21 April 2015

"The Punisher" is an excellent thriller from 2004. It is directed by Jonathan Hensleigh. And it is written by Jonathen Hensleigh and Michael France. The cast includes Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Joe Toro, Bobby Saint, Harry Heck, Tattooed Mike, Mark Collie, Russell Durham Comegys, Antoni Corone, Rick Einhurst, Ben Foster, Michael Reardon, Laura Harring, William Haze, Thomas Jane, Eddie Jenison, Marco St. John, Marcus Johns, Bonnie Johnson, Veryl Jones, Cateth Keys, Alan Lilly, Terry Loughlin, Marc Macaulay, Samantha Mathis, Jim Meskimen, Kevin Nash, Tom Nowicki, Robin O'Dell, Will Patton, Yamil Piedra, Steve Raulerson, Rebecca Ramjn and Roy Scheider. It has a wonderful interpretation of the comic strip by the same name and it is much better than previous attempts to depict this character. I give it 7 stars. Dale Haufrect

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of MARVEL'S hidden gems...

Author: Merob5407 from United States
7 March 2015

The Punisher is by far Marvel's most underrated film ever, but quite possibly one of its best. I absolutely adored the dark, brutal, and serious tone of this comic book film. I much more prefer the more gritty side of Marvel then its other cheerful and happy side. The Punisher's action sequences are done so expertly that it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off the madness! John Travolta's villainous performance is also incredible. The revenge plot is similar to other action films but, The Punisher takes this plot and adds its own unique feel to it to make it seem fresh and new. The brutal cutting edge violence may not be for everyone, but I for one loved it. This is simply a must see for any true Marvel fan or any action fan in general. Great flick to get the blood pumping!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Flawed, but underrated.

Author: drawlife from United States
22 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's very fun.

What makes this film work is Thomas Jane's performance as Frank Castle. He nails this role like the way Robert Downey Jr. or Hugh Jackman nail their performances as Iron Man and Wolverine. He's that good and that fun to watch on screen.

Frank Castle aka The Punisher is one of my favorite Marvel characters, director and writer Jonathan Hensleigh does a good job bringing the character to life. Combine that with Thomas Jane's performance, it's pure gold. The characterization and performance of Frank Castle is the film's bright spot. Action sequences and the kills are fun to watch. Hensleigh pays tribute to many action films from the 70's and 80's, one particular is the scene where Frank's wife and child are dead pays homage to Mad Max.

The film does a great job building up Frank Castle's arc. Here is where Johnathan Hensleigh poured his heart and soul into. Everything to do with Frank Castle is all pure gold, however the same cannot be said for the villain. John Travolta does a pretty good job being a merciless business man Howard Saint, and he is obviously has fun with the role. Even so it's very cliché and very two-dimensional despite some good moments.

The supporting cast is good, some have more prominent roles than others. This is a very grim film, but it also adds some layers of levity to ease some tension as it provides some decent humor coming from Ben Foster and John Pinette who portray his neighbors Dave and Bumpo. Eddie Jemison who at first is a lackey for the Saint's becomes his inside man and provides some good wisecracks. Rebecca Romijn portrays Joan, a neighbor and potential love interest, but her character isn't very expanded and is just sort of there. Will Patton is Howard Saint's right hand man and he also delivers a good performance as he gets all the dirty work done for him, but he isn't very fleshed out either.

Although The Punisher's plan is set up brilliantly, I found that it took forever to get it going, I understood what was happening, but I felt as if he could have moved forward with the plan at a more faster and accelerated rate. It only slows the film down in some parts. But make no mistake, when his revenge or so called "punishment" plan is fulfilled, as an audience member you will be pretty darn satisfied.

The Punisher is good film, and out of the three attempts that were brought to the screen, this one is the clear champion. It's not perfect, but it's fun and provides many tense and cringe- worthy moments and plenty of violence. In the end it's Thomas Jane's performance alone that makes this film work.


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Punisher (A review)

Author: hybridmeteora from Canada
27 September 2010

I've always been a huge Marvel fan. And the Punisher is my favourite anti hero of all time. The movie was absolutely amazing. It excelled where War Zone failed...with intellect. War Zone was a huge mistake and should not have been created.

Thomas Jane portrayed the broken man with such passion. The plot line was believable and flowed very well. It didn't rely on cheap action sequences and blood and guts every 5 minutes (like War Zone). It showed Frank using his years of combat training and thinking to outsmart and destroy his enemies.

Acting:9/10 Plot:8/10 Music:10/10 Action:8/10 Humour:7/10 Passion:8/10


Despite the negative reaction from critics (they're paid to be critical), The Punisher is an extremely fun film to watch and portrays the vigilante in a new light. To sum it up in three words: Tragic, Gripping and Intelligent.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Still not a true adoption of the comics, but what the heck I still love it anyways!

Author: Prolox from Canada
13 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After his son is murdered during an undercover operation, crime figure HOWARD SAINT wages war on the cop responsible for his son's set up & execution, FRANK CASTLE. Ambushing a family get together, Saint sees to it that Castle's parents, cousins, aunt's uncle's & wife & kid are horrible murdered & Castle himself is left for dead. Five months later, Castle is healed enough to seek revenge on Saint & his men & begins eliminating them one by one. But Saint has a few tricks up his sleeve & soon dispatches some of his deadliest henchmen to take Castle out, but Castle is armed to the teeth & it's payback time & soon Saint will know just how dangerous the PUNISHER actually is. THE PUNISHER is a remake of the 1989 DOLPH LUNDGREN film of the same name, unlike the earlier version, this one sports the Punisher trademark skull, unfortunately, unlike the comics, it also happens to be set in Tampa Florida! The violence is over the top, but fitting for the original comic books tone & the acting & directing works extremely well. Plenty of bullets & bodies hit the ground so fans of the long running comic series will be pretty pleased with this film. That said, I still prefer the original version with Lundgren, it had more action in it. That's not to say this is lacking in that department. Thankfully this one has plenty of realistic action & is not full of crazy Hong Kong style fighting. But for all the momentum that gets built up in the first half, it should have inspired a much better action packed ending, once the film reaches it's climax, the action dampens & ends rather limply, with no suspense whatsoever. Still I highly recommend this to all PUNISHER fans. As much as I love the films, these still are not true PUNISHER adoptions with a little something missing from each of them that the comics had. I mean why is it so hard to make a true adoption of the comic? Followed by another remake (oops I'm sorry Lion's Gate, I mean "Re-boot") five years later! Called THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE

***1/2 stars

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Another great Punisher movie

Author: Neon_Man
18 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is by far the best Punisher movie made. Tom Jane is the Punisher in every way possible he really shows why Frank becomes to the Punisher and how much losing his family hurt him he has a reason for being the Punisher and as the movie goes on you see him become more and more brutal in his killings had there been a sequel it would have been total mayhem.

The plot is a great revenge story with meaning something not seen since DeathWish with great acting from everyone and some of the best fight scenes out of any Punisher movie.

If you are a Punisher fan you will love this otherwise your no fan.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

wow everyone should see this movie

Author: LinkGoku from United States
19 June 2009

nobody knows what its like to loose anything until they've lived a life like Frank Castle, Tom Jane is astonishing as the punisher, he's not to gun happy, and not to angry, but he's sad, smart, and tough, John Travolta is probably the best choice to play Howard Saint, he's so cruelly careless this movie is filled with great actors from Roy Scheider playing Franks dad, too Ben Foster playing David (Franks next door neighbor) Franks ways of taking care of everyone he's against is so well thought up, that just proves that one man can be great, its just a great American film that i think everyone should see at least once in there lives, though i've never seen the original punisher movie i find this one to be great and thats why i gave it a 10/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Punisher A Decent Comic Book Movie

Author: tburke85 from United States
12 June 2009

The Punisher is a decent comic book movie that was panned by critics but I for one didn't think the film was that bad it just wasn't great. Director Jonathan Hensleigh does an admirable job of adapting the comic book into a feature film keeping it moving at a steady pace with just the right amount of brutal violence thrown in for guilty pleasure. Thomas Jane is good in the title role as Frank Castle a former FBI Agent who becomes a vigilante known as The Punisher who sets his sights on punishing those responsible for murdering his family. Jane may not win any awards for his performance as Castle but he's admirable showing some real talent as an actor especially in the action/fight sequences. John Travolta turns in a decent performance as Howard Saint the man who ordered the hit on Franks family and is now on the top of his list of people to punish for what they did to him. Travolta makes for an effective villain but unfortunately he isn't given much to do and is easily defeated. I suggest you watch Broken Arrow or Face Off if you want to see Travolta as a much better villain than he is in this one mainly because he's given a lot more to do in those films. The rest of the cast including Will Patton, Laura Harrring, Ben Foster, and Rebecca Romijn Stamos are solid as the supporting characters but they like Travolta aren't given much to do. Roy Schieder as Franks father and Samantha Mathis as his wife show up for brief extended appearances before being being written out very quickly because most of the focus is on Jane. Kevin Nash the wrester even makes a cameo in a non speaking role as The Russian a killer for fire who goes after Castle and he does an all right job with his small part. The action/fight sequences are well executed, brutal, and intense but many of them are missing that WOW factor you occasionally get when watching one of these kind of films. The fight between Frank and The Russian is impressive but after a while it gets pretty unrealistic. The music is okay but nothing memorable like Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. Overall though despite it's flaws The Punisher still isn't that bad of a movie that has plenty of action, some character development, suspense, a little humor, and solid performances by the cast who make it worth watching at least once.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A good comic book adaption of one of marvels darkest characters

Author: lopcar1993 from United States
31 March 2009

The Punisher how can you describe him? Vigilante hero? Or just your run of the mill man out for vengeance. Well if your thinking the second one your wrong. The Punisher is one of the darkest and one-minded anti-hero's ever to hit the comic world. The Punisher AKA as Frank Castle was an undercover F.B.I. Agent, who while on a job accidentally got the son of one of the most powerful mob bosses in Florida killed during a drug bust. Now the boss Howard Saint wants revenge on Castle for his son's death and he has one way in mind, kill Castle and his whole family. But what Saint doesn't know is that he just created the one thing criminals like Saint fear, The Punisher. The Punisher is a dark and very gritty movie that shows you how far one man would go to avenge his family, this is also an emotional film too, the emotion comes form what drives Castle to do what he does. To strive and never give up until the Saint's are punished. This version of The Punisher is as close to it's comic book roots as it comes. it's a dark and gritty tale of revenge, redemption & sorrow. This isn't your typical action film, it's a marvel comic book adaption with style, and that will stand the test of time as one of the best.

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