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The Punisher
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Punisher More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Could have been much better

7/10
Author: The-Mighty-Vindicator from Free Free Islands
5 July 2008

Why was this Marvel comic character given such a measly budget?? Don't they like the idea of a 'normal' guy becoming a vigilante? Does one have to have 'super-powers' to get the big buck budgets? Very sad.

With that said, this version of the Punisher was a bit better than Dolph Lundgren's version - with the glaring fault of making this Punisher an 'antiChrist'. What I mean by that, is that this Punisher is wished well by a 'preacher/prophet' type man: 'God go with you.' and this Punisher says God's going to sit this one out! Dolph's Punisher has him praying to God - questioning, answering his prayer with insight. Sad reversal in my mind and heart.

This movie just doesn't have the right 'feel' to it, that one might get from the comic - their favorite story line or such. Not much detail on his weapons either - another missing part that could have been added without problem. Lack of attention to details.

One good thing about this movie though, was the add-in of the homosexual villain. No spoilers though here. So, good to add to your collection of vigilante movies - but not a barn burner.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Vengeance, Revenger & Plenty of Torture

7/10
Author: whpratt1 from United States
14 January 2007

John Travolta, (Howard Saint) played an entirely different role than I have ever seen him portray. He plays the role of a real underworld mob boss who loses his son and is bound and determined to find out just who is responsible for his loss. The guy he is looking for is Frank Castle/The Punisher (Thomas Jane), Frank Castle was an FBI agent and had a very sweet and loving wife and also a young son who he rarely was able to spend time with because of his many assignments all over the globe. Frank decides he is going to retire and has a big party for a family reunion. It is from this point on in the film when things start to get real interesting and the film escalates into one big action filled film with all kinds of cruel hatred and murder after murder and beatings you will not be able to believe. This film had me glued to the TV Screen from beginning to the very end. If you have not seen this film, by all means get to see it soon.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

an enjoyable action adventure crime drama

7/10
Author: disdressed12 from Canada
30 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really enjoyed the Punisher.I thought Tom Jane was convincing in the title role.John Travolta was a bit weak as the main villain,i'll admit.the movie is ultra violent to be sure,with no end to the action.lots of things blow up.Rebecca Romijn played the(sort of) love interest and did a good job with her character.there are are a few other known actors in the mix,who are all competent in their roles.Country singer Mark Collie is terrific in a small role as a hit-man.The basic premise is that Nick Castle, FBI agent, played by Tom Jane is undercover and the operation goes horribly wrong,leading to the death of Bobby Saint, son of corrupt businessman Howard Saint, played by John Travolta.as retaliation for the death,Castle's family is brutally murdered ,leading to the genesis of the Punisher/AKA Nick Castle.the movie won't win any awards but as pure entertainment,it works. 7* out of 10

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Hollywood incompatence strikes again!

3/10
Author: shadgrindk from Dallas, TX
21 February 2012

The film might not be so bad if the idiots that be had actually been remotely warm in reaching the character's persona. He looks like Frank Castle, is a bad ass like Frank Castle, has the tragic events of Frank Castle, but this is a "Greedo shoots first" fiesta as the moral code of heroes and sportsman like conduct is upheld by the one Marvel anti-hero that had zero concern for the sleeziest, most violent, unfair and completely unethical methods being questioned. He in fact was a creatively sinister opponent whose only self-control moments were in avoiding collateral damage, and even that wasn't on his mind.

And why can't they ever do his costume? viAnd what's with the nerdy characters? Plus no supervillains to imply a marvel world.

Like I said... Idiots! To stop on a positive note I will say that Thomas Jane looked the part. Too bad he worked for a special ed division of Hollywood.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Honestly... not a real Punisher

5/10
Author: swedzin from Deadwood
26 July 2011

I remember seeing this film back in high school, watched it with my friends... one of my pals, who is a Punisher fan, he was really upset. I thought it was nothing special. But, years later, I did a little research, after a bunch of Punisher comic books, ya know... I was a little bit upset myself after seeing this film again. So I guess that Dolph Lundgren still remains the best Punisher and The Punisher (1989) is the best adaption. Punisher: War Zone (2008) comes second to me and than this one.

Now, the storyline is totally different than in the comic books. Did Johnathan Hensleigh read the comic book? Perhaps one of them! The title character is also very different. OK, If you have read the comic, than you know that Frank Castle, aka Punisher is one sick, twisted, insane, cold, sadistic lunatic who uses his military expertise to kill bad guys. He was a guy who almost goes nuts in Vietnam, after a lot action and violence, the murder of his family was like the last drop for his psychic condition. He finally snaps after that.

But, here Punisher, played by Thomas Jane, who just didn't do too much with the character. He got all wrong, or he underestimated the character, I don't know... OK, he visually looked pretty solid as a Punisher, you know, dark clothes, dark coat, the skull, and I liked that cold voice too... but I liked voice more in the video game than in the film. For me, Thomas looked pretty sane here... he looked just like guy who wants a revenge, not punishment. Yes, he said in the film "revenge is an emotional response", and he looked like he had an emotional response! Yep, he also said this in the comic book, so he punished them all. But... that's just the big talk. Do the punishment!

I mean, the Punisher here has killed few people during the film... and on the end, he killed a bunch of them! This is not a spoiler, it's a fact! If you ask me, this film would be over in 20 minutes! But here, Punisher takes photographs, slowly infiltrates into the mob business... setting up a little blackmail game for the key players in the mob family of Saints. Bull***t! He was supposed to kill them all! All! Now! It's like one the end of the film "Oh, I was supposed to kill them... OK I'll do it!" Yeah, after hour and a half! And we get no violence, no maximum gore, no blood... just an usual early 90s B movie action style... Punisher here... is a wimp! And to mention few other bad things...

When they kill his wife and a son... and when he founds them, it is an exact same footage like in Mad Max (1979)! It is identical! Check it out! And Frank Castle after wards, got shot in a very fatal spot... and he survives! So, he is a superhuman?! OK, now a few more things that irritates me and we'll be done with this. I promise. John Travolta as a leading bad guy Howard Saint? OK, I have never expected him as a leading bad guy, well, it is one big marketing huh? Hollywood, yahoo...! Maybe that's because he was a villain in Pulp Fiction, Face Off or Swordfish? Never, never saw him as a villain here... Punisher villains are supposed to be dark, cold and sick... just like the Punisher himself! Travolta never showed these qualities in the film. He was just like "OK, I play Punisher villain, I'm bad and I get the money!" Roy Scheider as a Punisher's father? Gimme a break! Roy was a great actor and he didn't deserve this kind of role. Which brings me to this... WHEN THE HELL... are they gonna stop with this "origin" or "beginning" comic book hero films... When they will get straight to the point? Who gives a damn how the hero was created in the film! We don't need a visual story about that! Give us the hero already! I wanna see hero in the first 5 minutes of the film! Just like in first Punisher or perhaps Batman (1989)! Straight to the point! Who gives a rat's pink rectum about origins or begins? Just like most of the comic book films of the 2000s... we all need to know where did they come from, what's their past... what's ... who gives a f**k?

For the end, I say that the Russian is the only best thing in the film. He looked pretty good here. But, he didn't spoke a single word. And the Russian is really a talk-able man. Other things... no worth mentioning... because they are not important. Well, conclusively... nothing special! And a real waste of time and money as an adaption. I guess this review is pi**ing you off, right? Go watch this film instead... relax.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

When we're forced to call a Dolph Lundgren film "superior," we're in trouble

4/10
Author: happyendingrocks from United States
15 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For anyone familiar with the Punisher comic book series, the notion of a film in which the titular vigilante is reduced to a nonsensical bore seems like an impossibility. Perhaps it is a credit to the film-makers of this disjointed revenge vehicle that they accomplish that staggering feat. At least they achieved something.

This overlong and largely nonsensical bit of mayhem strips away nearly every facet of the advertised character and instead offers us a stone-faced and wholly unlikeable entity who doesn't ultimately offer a satisfying payoff to the quest for vengeance the plot implies we're supposed to invest ourselves in. The bulk of the film seems tacked on to pave the way for a franchise, yet this initial outing does nothing to encourage or justify any further exploration of the Punisher's savage mission.

By completely disregarding the origin outlined in the comic series, the film-makers set themselves up for fans' "foul" cries from the onset, and nothing in this movie even attempts to reconcile the on-page Punisher with the one in this far-removed and inherently uninteresting re-imagining. The Punisher is one of the few Marvel "heroes" whose metamorphosis has stood the test of time, and it's downright shocking how many liberties are taken with that genesis here. While most of the Marvel characters who have made the transition from panel to screen have been subtly hampered by their quaint formative elements (almost all of which are grounded in the fear/awe of the post-nuclear '60s, which dates them by implication), The Punisher is a timeless creation whose transformation arises as a result of the brutal murder of his wife and son, a distinction which puts him in the "everyman" category so crucial to the revenge flick sub-genre.

Thomas Jane attempts to channel the steely resolve necessary to bring this archetype to life, but so little time is spent on his emotional transformation that we're left wondering whether he's haunted by the injustice done to his family because it's a callous, life-shattering act of violence, or simply because he knows he's SUPPOSED to be haunted by it. The only grieving we see our Punisher burdened with is a singular flashback scene that recounts the events we've already seen unfold, which strips the film of the complex disintegration of a relatively normal husband and father that we see essayed in the source material.

Since the Punisher himself has virtually no character, we are instead forced to explore a slew of ancillary characters, none of whom add anything to the stilted narrative. The introduction of the Costa Rican "shaman" who eventually nurses Jane back to health is a mindless diversion since all this supposedly important presence ultimately does is spout a telegraphed line to set up Jane's equally predicable "God is going to have to sit this one out" catchphrase. Likewise with each of the three moderately to mind-numbingly annoying neighbors who populate Frank Castle's micro-verse. Two seem to be on hand simply to provide comic relief, which is a bit unsettling since neither of them are funny. The damaged, one-dimensional Rebecca Stamos character serves only as an unrequited love interest whose attraction to Castle seems based solely on him beating up her obsessive ex-boyfriend. We are also forced to spend time with two disposable and ultimately pointless hit men, both of whom easily succumb to Castle's murderous talents and are clearly only in the movie to set up the unspectacular action sequences that spell their demise.

In a film full of useless people, the absence of the Microchip character becomes a glaring omission. In the original comics, Microchip served as both an ethical beacon and an invaluable resource, which balanced the homicidal prerequisites of Castle's meted "punishment" and offered a plausible explanation for his seemingly unlimited access to weaponry and technology. In this incarnation, Castle is a lone wolf, yet still has access to top-shelf weaponry and has the wherewithal to build an armored car that ends up being destroyed in battle, yet inexplicably re-appears in perfect condition by the film's coda. Unfortunately, so much of this film makes no sense that Castle's acquisition of his arsenal and his invincible ride become two of the more passable plot holes.

Even at its most extreme, the basic thread followed in the Punisher comic series had a grounding in the off-panel world that lent it a keen sense of realism. In this film, Castle's covert activities instead open the door for scrutiny, and when we actually stop to consider the implications of revealing himself to his ex-peers in the police force, his afore-mentioned securing of his weaponry, his ability to rent an apartment despite his legal status as "deceased", and the fact that it takes several of blasé villain John Travolta's henchmen being murdered for him to get around to sending his goons over to Castle's place of residence, the sloppy plot crumbles under the weight of its ineptness.

Don't even get me started on Castle's meticulously plotted revenge scheme, in which he misleads Travolta into killing his own wife and best friend. This is ostensibly done to force Travolta to endure the loss and grief his murderous orders created for Castle, yet Travolta's punishment occurs mere seconds after the reveal, which leaves precious little time for Travolta to react to the results of the carefully crafted ploy. In the end, when our villain gets his come-uppance, we're left wondering why simply shooting all parties involved wouldn't have been a more effective and economical use of The Punisher's time.

When the lone non-superhero in the Marvel film canon is the one whose tale is hardest to swallow, something has clearly gone wrong. And when said character has been previously brought to life in a more convincing fashion by Dolph Lundgren, we're clearly dealing with a problematic film. Frank Castle already lost his family. He certainly didn't deserve this.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Piece of crap!

2/10
Author: jake-law123 from United States
30 December 2010

Frank Castle, aka, The Punisher, is one of the most badass comic book heroes of the world. Other Marvel heroes, like Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, all have special powers or abilities to fight crime. Punisher's method of fighting is simple, GUNS! Nothing special, nothing incredible, just a gun toting vigilante. But for every comic book hero, there's always a movie update. What we get for the Punisher is this pointless, stupid, and boring insult to the awesome comics. How could you possibly screw this up, its not that difficult. No visual effects required. Just a decent action film, is that so hard?

Frank Castle, now retired, settles down with his family with a family reunion in Puerto Rico. His last assignment resulted in his men killing the son of a mob boss known as Howard Saint, (John Travolta). Seeking revenge, Howard hires his men to go to Puerto Rico to murder Frank and his family. Afterwards, Frank barely survives, and is nursed back to health. He then declares a war on Howard and his company, seeking the proper vengeance by becoming the Punisher. The only good thing about this movie is that it follows the comic books, thats about it.

This film lacks any common sense whatsoever. The beginning part didn't make any sense at all for one thing. I get what goes on, but its not very well explained. Frank must be invincible, for he survives countless shots in the chest, then is nursed back as if never shot. But other than that, the film just goes nowhere. If he seeks vengeance, then do it! So much time in this movie is wasted. So many pointless scenes. Never gets down to the dirty work, just the same boring crap for two hours.

The action scenes are rare, and very short, making the film suffer from boredom. It took me forever to finally finish it. Not even the final scene is worth watching. It lasts a few minutes, and not much happens. The realism in this film is pathetic. Apparently people can survive being shot in the head, or being shot with a shotgun TWICE in the chest.

The performances made me wanna puke. Not even John Travolta was convincing. Thomas Jane has no more emotion in the film once his family dies, which although makes sense, makes his performance less cool or relating. Pointless cameo by Roy Scheider, playing Frank's dad, who's not even in it for more than 10 minutes.

This movie is nothing but a mockery, a spoof to the true, legendary hero. This film could have been 10x better. Way to screw it up!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Don't be so quick to write this off, it's better than you think.

7/10
Author: oneguyrambling from Australia
17 December 2010

Apart from one baffling and totally infuriating scene (one that was simply lousy and poorly conceived), The Punisher totally defied my initial expectations (that it would suck), and is actually quite good.

Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) is an ex soldier and undercover cop, completing one last job before he leaves the force permanently to spend more time with his family. The job of course goes a little awry and results in the unplanned death of one of the criminals. No biggie, he shouldn't have been a naughty boy in the first place. Only this naughty boy happened to be the son of one Howard Saint (John Travolta) who is a local underworld kingpin and drug-lord. Saint swears revenge on all and sundry… and what revenge it is.

At the behest of his trophy wife Saint orders the wholesale execution of everyone that ever bought Castle a Christmas present. Luckily for them Castle is attending a family reunion so the bad guys can save petrol, and as requested they drop the entire family, Mum, Dad, cousins, Aunties and Uncles on the spot in cold blood. Castle wife and young son are left for near last for dramatic effect, and after a chase it is obvious that they will not appear in any sequel. Castle himself is left for dead, riddled with holes on a burning dock… And this is where the bad guys screw up. Everyone else, and I mean EVERYONE ELSE at the soiree, are left deader than Lindsay Lohan's career, yet they have the primary target at their feet and neglect to put one in his temple just to make sure? Haven't they seen Zombieland? Some mysterious black guy (whose significance I just couldn't get) saves Castle and brings him back to health, and in a cheesy moment Castle just "happens" to find his son's T shirt with the Punisher skull logo on it, weeks after the shootings, on the beach.

Castle somehow gets back to the US unnoticed and sets about plotting his revenge and hitting the bottle, and not always in that order. He moves into what looks on the outside to be a squatter's residence but inside seems to be fully furnished and well maintained apartments. His neighbours are basically three, a fat guy, an "alternative" guy with a bunch of piercings and a chick who might scrub up well after a shower (it's Rebecca Romjin so we know she will).

Castle spends a while coming up with a way to ensure his revenge is particularly sweet, and above all convoluted and largely unnecessary seeing as how in the end he still walks into impossible odds with guns blazing. But it seems there were 60 odd minutes of screen time to fill so let's just go with it. The plan involves working through the chain of command up to Saint via his money, business, 2IC and finally his trophy wife.

Once the wheels are in motion Castle goes public and more or less tells everyone what's going to happen, but for ages neither the cops or the bad guys seem to be able to find him. When he does show up he invariably ends up killing people yet again no cops can catch him, and the forensic guys obviously don't look that hard for DNA or basic evidence.

There is some "more violent than usual in comic book films" action, a great one on one stoush involving an indiscreet and frankly monstrous assassin and a pretty funny faux-torture scene (as funny as torture can be I guess).

Travolta is a pretty good bad guy in this, largely because I think he is no longer a likable good guy unless you're a middle aged woman with recurring Grease flashbacks, and as Howard Saint he is always angry and seems to be talking with a mouthful of cotton wool. Jane is more efficient than I expected, he is pretty solid and believable in the action and fight scenes, plays the gruff p*ssed off loner well and spits out some pretty good, albeit dry, one liners. The final showdown between Castle and multiple bad guys is very entertaining and sees him exacting the appropriate level of revenge… So that's the good bits, but a 7.5 can't be all good.

The bad:

* - The fat supposed comic-relief neighbour who mimes opera is terrible and annoying.

* - In one scene Castle must swerve to avoid the most clichéd reason in cinema, the kid running onto the road chasing a big red ball.

* - The cheesy way they decided to shoehorn the Punisher logo into the climax of the film, forced and distracting.

The awful:

* - A hired assassin comes to kill Castle, only he shows up at the diner where Castle is eating, pulls out a guitar case and… sings him a song first!! Worse than terrible - f*cking annoying is more to the point. I squirm every time it comes up and reach for the remote. Removing this scene and opera-miming fat guy and this is an 8.

This was a pleasant surprise aside from my above whinges, a low key comic book movie with realistic violence and great character foundation. After all what could be more inspiring than watching everyone that features in your personal photo album being butchered in front of you.

Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Don't be fooled by your pre-conceived opinions, this is better than you might think.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I can't believe this piece of crap is rated so high!!!

1/10
Author: kmcollins29 from United States
21 September 2010

I saw this film in the theaters in 2004 when it was released with a few of my friends. We intended on seeing Kill Bill 2, but unfortunately the theater we went to wasn't showing it. We all decided to see this which was starting shortly after we arrived I wasn't expecting Citezen Kane, but I figured John Travolta, Thomas Jane, and R-rating. Should be pretty good. Wrong. You know when the version starring Dolph Lundgren and produced by the Cannon group 15 years earlier is much better something is seriously wrong. The Punisher is supposed to be dark and disturbing. This movie is just awful on all counts. This is on my short list as worst films ever produced by a major studio.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great Punisher

9/10
Author: ebiros2 from United States
13 December 2005

This is supposed to be a dark and serious movie about a troubled and heroic man against host of evil villains. But, what I found was that the supposed bad guys didn't look all that bad in this movie. Lot of them I didn't mind seeing in a bar on Fridays. I was thinking, what a great country we live in, that an evil movie can't find enough actors who really exudes evil from the bottom of their person - good character is so ingrained into our culture. Tom Jane is totally awesome as the Punisher. Never seen any physical actor look so good in a film. I really loved this movie, and thrilled to hear that they're working on a sequel. I've had one of the best 2 hours of movie viewing in recent years.

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