The Punisher (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • An undercover FBI agent becomes a vigilante assassin and sets out to unleash his wrath upon the corrupt businessman who slaughtered his entire family at a reunion.

  • Special agent Frank Castle had it all: A loving family, a great life, and an adventurous job. But when his life is taken away from him by a ruthless criminal and his associates, Frank has become reborn. Now serving as judge, jury, and executioner, he's a new kind of vigilante out to wage a one man war against those who have done him wrong.

  • After a undercover operation where Bobby Saint, son of corrupt businessman Howard Saint, is killed. FBI agent Frank Castle retires. Howard Saint holding Castle responsible for the death of his son butchers Franks family during a family reunion and leaves Frank for dead. Burnt out and taunted by memories of his murdered family, Frank sets out to avenge his family, and he becomes a judge, jury and executioner known as "The Punisher", as Castle sets out to punish Howard Saint and his associates in a one man war, as Castle is not willing to give up until those responsible are dead and until he has his revenge.

  • Frank Castle is a man who has seen too much death. On his final assignment, Castle plays his undercover role perfectly, but the operation spins out of control and a young man, Bobby Saint, is inadvertently killed. Inflamed by the death of their son, the Saints are willing to risk their newfound legitimacy on a wholesale mission of blood-vengeance. Castle's worst nightmare is about to come true, as Howard Saint and his lieutenants unleash hell at the Castle family reunion. But Castle, to his everlasting torment, survives. Until this moment, he has spent his entire life adhering strictly to the law. However, experience has taught him that the law cannot adequately penalize the people who murdered his family. Drawing upon all he has learned in twenty years, Castle sets in motion a plan to punish the murderers.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • One night in Tampa, Florida, Mickey Duka leads the young Bobby Saint to an arms deal. The deal is brokered by a man named Otto Krieg, who speaks with an accent due to his knowledge of six languages. The exchange goes bad when FBI suddenly burst into the scene, and agitated, Otto pulls out a gun. The police fire back, killing everyone except the cowardly Mickey, who is terrified when he sees Bobby's body.

    The bodies are taken away, but Otto Krieg stands up unharmed, and speaks with an unaccented voice that he hates the undercover jobs he's always been taking. Arnold Creed is really Frank Castle, a FBI agent who is just retiring. This case had been his last, and he was upset at the death of the young man. The police are ill at ease when they discover who the young man is, Robert Saint, son of crime lord Howard Saint. When the news reach the Saint family, the second son Johnny orders Mickey to be bailed out. Mickey is taken by the Saints to a club and beaten. He explains to Quentin Glass that Bobby went to the meeting of his own free will, and that Otto Krieg, the man responsible for the deal, is dead. Howard is still unsatisfied, and kills another man who was supposed to be responsible for his son in front of Mickey.

    Meanwhile, Frank returns to his family, his lovely wife Maria and young son. Frank knows he has been neglecting them and forcing them to move constantly, but he promises London would be the last place to move to. Before that though, they will go to a family reunion in Puerto Rico.

    Howard Saint goes to confirm his son's body, and when the police proved unwilling to share information with him, he orders his own men to find out everything about Arnold Creed. At the funeral of his son, Quentin informs Howard that Krieg was a fake, that his real name is Frank Castle. Howard orders him killed, but his wife Livia adds that the whole family must also die. Howard agrees, while Johnny decides to go to Puerto Rico with the other assassins.

    The assassins arrive just in time for another family outdoor beach party. Frank has gone inside with his father to look at some modified guns, they hear the gunshots. Though they fire back, they are unable to rescue anyone. The assassins completely slaughter the family, and although Maria and her son manage to escape in an SUV and drive away, the assassins eventually catch up and run them over on a pier. Frank, distracted by a knife fight with one of the goons, arrives too late. The assassins return, and Johnny beats and shoots Frank himself, telling him "My father and mother send their regards". Quentin then torches the place, and they leave Frank for dead, not knowing that the explosion actually blasted Frank into the water. They return to the Saints & Sinners club, where they toast to "a score settled", and Howard gives Livia a pair of diamond earrings to celebrate. Quentin slow dances with Livia as Howard watches, then Livia strips off her dress for Howard when they are alone.

    Candelaria, one of the Castle family's friends, rescues Frank. After Frank recovers Candelaria takes him back to the Castle house. Frank picks up the guns his father had been showing him, as well as a T-shirt with a skull logo that his son had given him. Filled with anger, he is determined to have revenge and returns to America. He returns to Tampa and move into a poor run down apartment building, where he starts modifying guns, the apartment he lives in, and his car. Frank's actions catch the interest of his friends, the opera- and food-loving fat Bumpo, the piercing-covered skinny video gamer Spacker Dave, and the lovely Joan, who works as a waitress and is friends with Bumpo and Dave.

    One evening, Frank drives off in his car. He kidnaps Mickey and using a blowtorch, steak and popsicle, tricks him into revealing all he knows about the Saints. Mickey starts screaming (which badly scares Frank's neighbours). Mickey eventually gives in, telling him that Howard Saint relies on two Cubans, the Toro brothers, who control all gambling and prostitution up and down the Gulf coast. They give the money to Howard, who transports it to his bank in the Grand Caymans and "washes it". Frank releases Mickey, who discovers he was never really hurt, and freely talks about the Saints - whom he claims he hates; Mickey has been forced into their servitude. With the information about the family's schedule and their closest friend Quentin Glass, Frank starts following them and taking photos. He learns about Howard's golf schedule, Livia's movie nights, Johnny's women and cars lifestyle and Quentin's secret homosexual trysts. Afterward, he drags his own gravestone out of the graveyard and plants it in Howard's golfing spot with the date of his death removed.

    Frank meanwhile confronts his former police colleagues in front of several reporters, asking why nobody was arrested for his family's death after five months. Learning that the police were too afraid of taking the Saints head-on, Frank takes matters into his own hands. He sneaks into the Saints' bank building, gets past two guards and gets to the vault. He hits one man unconscious and orders two others counting cash to fill up a suitcase with money. The rest of it he throws out the window, which draws in a noisy crowd trying to catch the money. Frank, dressed in a long black coat and the skull t-shirt, confronts two of Saint's armed guards and kills them, he escapes easily into the crowd. The Tampa TV news reports the bank incident and identifies Frank. Bumpo and Dave look up Frank's history on the Internet and find his resume. Meanwhile, Howard is furious at the news, and receives a warning from the Toro brothers that if they lose more money they will be switching bankers. Back in Frank's apartment, an angry former boyfriend bangs on Joan's door demanding to be let in. Bumpo and Spacker are scared, but Frank easily disarms the man and sends him away. Joan thanks him and says they are sorry for what happened to his family.

    Setting his vengeance in motion, Frank breaks into Livia's car and calls Quentin on her phone with a device to disguise his voice. He blackmails Quentin Glass for $5000, saying he has photos "Mr. Saint would not want to see", telling Glass to come to a hotel. Frank parks Livia's car illegally near the same hotel, and gets a ticket. Howard, looking for Quentin and failing, is told by Micky that the man was at the Winston hotel. He later spots Livia and Quentin talking and laughing together and becomes more suspicious. Quentin denies being at the hotel.

    The next day, as Frank eats at the diner Joan works at, a man comes in with a guitar case. They eye each other suspiciously, then the newcomer, Harry Heck, starts singing a Johnny Cash-type ballad. Harry says he wrote it for Frank and the song will be played at his funeral. Frank leaves the cafe and is chased by a gun-firing Heck. Frank is saved by special steel panels he's installed in his old Pontiac GTO, but still crashes. After a brief standoff, he kills Heck.

    Aboard a cigarette speedboat moored at a jetty Johnny finds a Claymore bomb with the sign "Front Toward Enemy". Johnny jumps off the boat just in time as it explodes, Frank is standing on an overlooking hill. Howard is agitated enough to start throwing things around, and the Cubans march into his office. The two sides argue, Howard says they've had a good partnership but the business was one without insurance so he refuses to cover their losses. Before the brothers leave he warns the them that if they don't like it he has more guns than they do. Howard tells Quentin to call "The Russian."

    Dave asks Frank to help because Joan's hostile ex-boyfriend is back. At first he closes the door on him, but reopens it seconds later and goes to the apartment, where he finds Joan and Bumpo there preparing a meal. They invite him for the meal, and after saying what they're all thankful for, they eat. Afterward, Dave and Bumpo leave for dessert, and Joan tries to tell Frank to move on with his life and comes close for a kiss. He tells her he is not what she's looking for, and leaves. Joan goes to help make the "Iced Florentine" dessert and dance to opera music. Frank opens a bottle to have a drink alone in his apt when suddenly a very large blond man appears. The music drowns out the fight between Frank and "the Russian". Frank is beaten badly by the seemingly indestructible foe. The fight eventually leads into the others' apartment, terrifying Joan and the others. Frank manages to throw a pot of boiling water in the Russian's face and while stunned, Frank pushes himself and the man downstairs. Frank is able to move but the large man lies still, his neck broken. Frank stands up briefly but passes out due to his own injuries. The three neigbours try to patch Frank up.

    Meanwhile downstairs, four of Howard's hitmen discover the body of "the Russian" and head upstairs. Joan and Frank hide in a secret room under the floor, while Spacker and Bumpo remain to deal with the men. Quentin questions the two and tortures Dave, cruelly yanking out all his piercings with pliers. Dave refuses to say where Frank is. Quentin finally believes him, and after leaving one of his men to report should Frank return, he leaves. Johnny calls his father to report the Russian is dead and Castle is missing. Quentin is somewhere else. Livia tells Howard she is going out until 10, it is her Thursday movie nite.

    When Frank recovers he kills the guard with a paper cutter blade, then asks Dave why he would help him. Dave answers because they're neighbours and family. Bumpo takes him to the hospital, while Frank prepares his weapons, much to Joan's dismay. Frank also writes a "declaration of intent" where he invokes the motto of his old drill sergeants, "Si vis pacem para bellum" ("If you want peace, prepare for war.") and states that the justice he's pursuing is not criminal, but punishment. Joan asks how he's any different then the Saints, Frank replies "they have something to lose". Joan realizes part of Frank's idea was to be killed in battle.

    Frank breaks into Livia's car again and takes her diamond earrings from her handbag. He sets up another blackmail meet with Quentin. Mickey, under Frank's orders, shows Howard the ticket on Livia's car at the Winston hotel. Howard remembers that Quentin was also there at the time, and suspicious, heads to Quentin's home. Meanwhile, as Quentin leaves his mansion, Frank breaks in. Howard goes in later and discovers Livia's earring in Quentin's bed. When Quentin returns, Howard greets him at the stairs, startling the man. Howard tells him a story of how Jim Bowie of Alamo fame accused another of cheating by breaking into their home, moving their furniture, and throwing a knife in the middle between the people involved. As he talks he moves Quentin's furniture and throws a knife on the coffee table. Quentin claims rightly that he never took a cent from Howard. When Quentin refuses to pick up the knife, Howard swipes him with it. Snapping about how Quentin thought him an idiot because Howard treated him like his brother, Howard stabs Quentin to death. Frank drives off.

    When Livia returns home, she sees Howard throwing her things on the floor. He tells her he knows about "her and Quentin", that she was with his best friend. Upon seeing Quentin's body by the doorway, and when shown the parking ticket by the Winston Hotel, she tells him that Quentin was gay. Howard doesn't believe her, only slapping her and dragging her out to the car. He reminisces about their history and her former prostitute status before they arrive at bridge overpass. He throws her over the side, where she is quickly run over by a train.

    Howard goes to his club, where he offers his men a reward for the one who kills Frank. Alone in his office, Johnny asks where Quentin and Livia are, but his father outright lies to him. In a forest, Frank prepares himself for battle. He has a sawed-off shotgun, bow and arrows, M16 with grenade launcher, his father's modified 1911 Colt .45s, several small anti-personnel mines, a bulletproof vest and the skull tee. He kills Howard's guards, then sets bombs to several cars and sneaks into the club. From upstairs one of the men orders champagne by pressing a mic button. Frank sets a bomb in the bucket he sends up the dumbwaiter. When the bomb goes off, Frank rushes in, shooting anyone still left alive. Frank also takes a few point blank shots into his vest. He finds Johnny trapped and injured, and forces him to hold onto a mine with a deadman switch. Then he goes out and finds Howard, telling him he killed both his sons as from behind in the building, Johnny screams as the bomb goes off.

    The two men standoff cowboy style, Frank wins the draw, wounds Howard, and shows him the photos of Quentin's affair as well as Livia's other earring. Frank taunts Howard that he made the man kill his best friend and wife. Then he ties Howard by the feet to the back of a car and sets the car in motion through the parking lot, setting off the bombs he planted earlier. From the sky the fires form a shape of a skull as Howard slowly burns to death.

    Back at home, Frank is about to commit suicide and shoot himself when a memory of a blond women - Marie - stops him. He decides to set himself a new path and leave. Meeting up with Joan, he tells her that she is right, good memories could save a life. He leaves, telling her he has a gift for all three of them. When Dave is released from hospital, they find wads of cash left for them. High on a bridge a Frank voiceover claims that Frank Castle is dead, he is now the "Punisher."

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