I’d like to start this off by saying that my expectations weren’t exactly high for this, the third Punisher film adaptation attempt. There was way too much negative buzz about this film to get me too excited. But I have to say; I was pleasantly surprised at how well good ol’ Frank Castle was portrayed this time around.
First off, Marvel never disappoints when it comes to an exciting and creatively driven opening credits sequence. Marvel studios always knock themselves out on the first thirty seconds or so of a film (see also Spiderman 1.) They manage to really pull The Punisher from the pages of Marvel and fling him up onto the big screen in style. By the time the first scene opened I was already fully immersed in the film, all out of “buncha’ crunch,” and ready to go.
This was easily one of the most violent films I have ever seen (it rivals the most recent Rambo film just to give you a reference as to what I mean.) Castle manages to brutally execute about 50 people before even saying his first line of dialogue. They did the right thing with not wasting their time on a back-story and an origin. Get right to the killing. Shoot first… ask questions later.
This brings me to my next point: There was a bit of buzz during marketing about possibly cutting it down to a pg-13 rating after the success of “Dark Knight.” First of all this is terrible logic. “Dark Knight” did well because it pushed the envelope. It went from a cheeky kids film to a semi-brutal slugfest. So to try and tone down The Punisher would be a real shot in the foot.
Now, if they had cut it down for a pg-13 rating, they would be left with maybe 10 minutes worth of a few touching scenes with Castle confronting a young girl, and some beautiful helicopter shots of New York City. This film was brutal, merciless, and at times down right disturbing … I loved it.
As great as this film was though, there were some things that were hard to look past. For example, the acting at times was rather exhausting. Dominic West’s character at times reminded me of a cheesy Dick Tracy villain. And there was some accent butchery that made a lot of the dialogue unnecessarily cheesy. Too often, a very dramatic scene was cut up by a very cheeky and lame delivery.
Overall this film was a real step forward for The Punisher film franchise. I loved the violence (somewhere Stephen Segal is blushing) and I really liked the style of the film. And I didn’t want to, but I really rather liked Wayne Knight as Microchip. I give “Punisher War Zone” two bloody, dislocated thumbs up.