Punisher: War Zone
Starring Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, and Wayne Knight
Directed by Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans)
Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language, and some drug use
Appropriate for ages 18+
Vigilante Frank Castle (Stevenson) is back again and desires to brutally murder every criminal he can get his hands on. When a crime boss goes after a Federal agent’s wife that Frank accidentally killed, he sets off to protect her, no matter what the cost.
I’ll admit, I really liked the first Punisher film. Tom Jane made a terrific Frank Castle and John Travolta made for a truly hideous villain. The film had a lackluster performance at the box office, mostly due to a poor marketing effort by Lion’s Gate. But the boys at LG decided to bring him back, this time with a new director, former kick-boxing champion Lexi Alexander, and Rome’s Ray Stevenson. Having been a fan of Lexi’s last film, Green Street Hooligans, and an even bigger fan of Stevenson as Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome, I thought that this film might have a lot of potential. I was wrong.
Rather than the serious tone that the first film took, this new Punisher is pure tongue-in-cheek silly violence. The story is only there to serve the kind of extreme violence that only gore lovers could appreciate. And without a decent story or script to work with, the actors perform as sloppy as the crime scenes. Instead of a compelling vigilante drama, what we end up with is almost comedic. Since the folks involved in this picture couldn’t take it seriously, I’m sure that the audience will have the same trouble as well. What a waste of talent and fake blood. D+