The Punisher (2004)Starring:
Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Eddie Jemison, Rebecca Romijn, Ben Foster, John PinetteDirected by:
I've never been a big fan of The Punisher character or comics, so I wasn't too psyched about this movie. The Punisher is just a vigiliante who hunts down criminals and kills them with weapons (usually guns). He's got no powers, and usually his opponents don't either. The "realism" of the character (I use quotations because the character isn't realistic per se, just more realist than a superhero) appeals to some, but not me. I don't read comic books for realism; I do so for escapism. I like that comics can portray the fantastic, and doing so, usually have something to say about the human condition. They're a connection to my ultra-imaginative childhood, not an expression of some nihilistic desire to see some anti-hero gun down his nemesis. Plus, I don't really like guns.
The main problem with the Frank Castle (AKA The Punisher) character is that because he deals with low-level criminal scum (as opposed to super-powered villains and intergalactic entities), whom he usually kills, he has no great rival. The key to a great hero is that he is challenged by a great villian- The X-Men have Magneto, The Fantastic Four have Dr. Doom, Spider-Man has the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, etc. Even Daredevil took The Kingpin from Spider-Man. But the Punisher? Nada. It's a flaw in the character's set-up. He's taken it upon himself to "punish" those who do crime, and that punishment is usually death. He can't exactly develop a decent rivalry with a corpse can he? But, if a character sticks around long enough to become a nemesis, then Punisher didn't do the job that everyone reads his comic wants to see.
So if I didn't like the character, why'd I go see the movie based on it? Because I've really enjoyed the other recent Marvel offerings, so I hoped this would entertain me as well. Plus, I gotta keep supporting comic movies so that Hollywood keeps making them. There's still characters like Iron Man and Captain America to see on the big screen after all.
How was it? Meh. I didn't hate it (like I hated The Matrix Reloaded or Once Upon a Time in Mexico), but I didn't really like it either. I was entertained by it; there was some cool stuff in it (i.e. criminals are disposed of in creatively violent ways). But, I don't need to see it again; I won't be buying it. Plus, there was some really lame parts as well. I give it a 2.5 out of 5. If you're a really big fan of the character (but don't mind the key change in his origin that basically destroys the whole "this isn't vengeance, this is punishment" theme to the character in the movie), or if you're a big fan of ultra-violent gun vigiliante movies, you'll love this flick. If not, skip it-- you'll hate it.