The Punisher (2004)
User ReviewsReview this title
However, this was the not the cartoon-like film I expected. It was more of a pretty brutal revenge-crime movie. It's a rough movie, pure and simple.
Believable? Of course not. Some of the action is ludicrous but the most ridiculous of all - the fight against the huge Russian, is actually the most fun of the action scenes. The rest is just plain mean as the hero's entire family gets wiped out by gunman and "The Punisher" (Thomas Jane) goes after them after almost being killed himself.
A smart aspect of this film was inserting a bit of humor in it, such as the two nerds down the hallway who befriend "The Punisher."
The sometimes-juvenile but interesting action scenes, the diverse characters in here and the humor all combine to make this better than anticipated.
No, it's anything but a thinking man's movie, but it IS entertaining and harmless if you look at everything tongue-in-cheek.
There are no flashy CGI effects in this movie or fictional superpowers. It relies more on traditional technique's and delivers beautifully.
The director has done a superb job with the severely underfunded budget taking us to a realistic location that serves two purposes cheaper production costs and somewhere original that looks and feels real. After all that is what the punisher movie is about, making a comic book character fit into the real world with realistic situations.
This guy could be anyone out there with a vendetta up against believable enemies. There are no superpowers on show here just a guy with a vendetta up against a powerful man that wants him killed who can afford to hire realistic killers with personality I might add, to do the job
This goes down as one of my favorite films of all time mainly because of the beautiful camera work and realistic gritty style action. I'll be definitely keeping an eye out for this director's work in the future.
Former soldier and FBI man Frank Castle (exit Dolph Lundgren, enter Baltimore native Thomas Jane of "Deep Blue Sea" and "Dream-Catcher", who's about six or seven inches shorter than Dolph Lundgren but still pretty buffed up and also a naturally blond man having dyed his hair black to match the character's appearance in the comics) has retired from the action and is looking forward to living a quiet life with his wife and kid. While attending a family reunion at the beach (Roy Scheider plays his dad) Frank's family is attacked by assassins sent by Howard Saint (John Travolta) to avenge the death of one of his sons from Frank's last mission. In a shot similar to the original "Mad Max" (1979), Frank's wife and son are brutally run over with a giant truck while his father, brothers and in laws are gunned down. After being beaten to a pulp and shot in the chest and nearly blown to bits, Frank is saved by a local and nursed back to health. Naturally, he is enraged at the heartless murder of his family and goes after Howard saint, his wife, son, and secretly gay lawyer, thirsting for revenge. He sets up his base of operations in a run down building with three misfit neighbors - a sexy but unloved waitress, a guy with lots of piercings in his face, and an over weight Asian guy.
In many ways closer to the comic book than the earlier film, this one manages to get the skull shirt in there and remembers to at least mention that Frank was originally a soldier before going and making him a cop/FBI guy. Thoug Thomas Jane is not as physically imposing as Dolph Lundgren, he still manages to be a fairly menacing yet sympathetic figure. John Travolta delivers his usual joyful villain routine. Rebecca R-Stamos of the X-Men films (and yes, I know she's separating from her husband John) plays the sexy but unloved waitress who's spent the last few years trying to keep undesirable men out of her panties but once she gets an eyeful of Frank she wants to get into his pants because he's a strong, confident Alpha male who sticks up for the underdog and tries to steer Frank away from his suicide new life style. Rebecca is okay in this role, certainly no worse than any other comic book movie love interest.
One thing that surprised me about this film was how much humor was in it, whether it was Frank's fight with a giant blond Russian thug or his torturing the informant to be by threatening to blow torch him while actually burning a thing of meat while poking him in the back with an ice pop ("You are not a nice person."). Also worth noting is Frank's response to being told that obviously he's upset: "I used to get upset when I had a flat tire... when a plane was delayed... when the Yankees won the series..." Still, despite this humor, the film is never as ridiculously unbalanced as "Daredevil" or as disconnected as "Hulk" (both released in 2003). I was also expecting a little more violence, but all in all I was satisfied with what I got.
So far this is probably the best of the non-X-Men/Spider-Man Marvel movies. Of course, studios have a tendency to NOT give the lesser known characters a suitable running time to establish who they are because they ARE lesser known and try to compensate by making them fast paced. Once studios learn not to do this, better superhero films will become more common.
Yes, I am a fanboy. But I am a fan of action movies too. This movie took from some of the classics but made it their own. Its too bad that spiderman or superman fans cant see past the all superheros must be good guys...The Punisher is a different type of hero. The kind you wish we would never need, but also one that you may want.
This is not someone you can easily 'warm up' to, and as the movie evolves into a series of executions, you may actually start to feel more sympathy toward the Saints and their henchman, Quentin Glass (the ever-watchable Will Patton) than in Castle. But screenwriter Michael France, and co-writer and director Jonathan Hensleigh, both well-versed in the Marvel comic character, add three quirky 'innocents' (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ben Foster, and John Pinette), who Castle warms up to, somewhat, and must ultimately protect. He will never recover the compassion that he lost, but he realizes that for many being brutalized, he is the only hope they have, giving him a purpose to live for.
Unlike the earlier, Dolph Lundgren "Punisher", hampered by a minuscule budget and two-dimensional acting, this version makes the most of its small budget, with first-class acting (including a VERY welcome cameo by Roy Scheider), incredible stunt and pyrotechnic work, and a storyline that offers far more depth than you might expect in a comic book adaptation.
I sincerely hope a sequel is made, as this will be a film that will grow in stature as audiences realize how good it actually is!
The next film sets itself up for a kick butt start. They should take a page from X2 or the Lethal Weapon series and just open the next film with a wild battle. You can grab the viewer right away and still tell your full story right after. I hope the entire cast as well as the director returns because they crafted one quality origin story here. In summary, I enjoyed everything about this dark tale.
Although The Punisher is adapted from Marvel Comics, the R-rating alone should be blunt indicator of the path it intends to take. Half an hour into the film it still leaves us clueless and oblivious to the dark turn it will twist into. During which Thomas Jane undergoes an apt transformation of character from heartfelt family man on that one last undercover op to a hard-boiled, brooding vigilante who downs whiskey, swears, tortures and broods. The catalyst for this development is the brutal murder of his family and now he's out to get the hierarchy of villains (headed by John Travolta) only he isn't just out for vengeance or justice he's out to punish. In a corrupt city of thugs, Frank Castle becomes the judge, jury and executor.
What is so refreshing about Thomas Jane in the part of Punisher is that he is a sprawling surge of old school with a splash of Clint Eastwood protagonist the detached, effortless action hero who is too cool for romantic interests, with hardcore one-liners and a merciless approach to duels. In this way, he is easily one of the most successful 'superhero' actors of the new millennium. But alas, Jane went unnoticed and Punisher did poorly at the box office probably BECAUSE it adopted this off-beat, old-school style to acting and action.
I also want to comment on said action, which was spectacular. Truth to be told, I have been waiting a long time to say that about a film. Usually it's the obligatory "the visuals are stunning" or "it's extremely fast-paced and kinetic" but here the sheer hand-to-hand combat is the film's goldmine because it moves back into close character mode instead of the epic scenarios that Batman, Superman and Spiderman dish out to keep out interest. It's gloriously gritty, graphic and dirty which unfortunately also begs the question of where the $33,000,000 budget went. Did they spend it all on late night taco runs?
For that matter, The Punisher is far from devoid of faults. Its fatal flaw stems, in part, from what made it a good film in the first place: its sparseness of effects, general minimalism and lack of superhero formula. Rather it is a model-kit assembled from seedy old-school revenge action movies, the type you'd sort of casually catch a bit of on TV one night.
7 out of 10
The Punisher is a shining example of revenge and vigilante-style justice done right. It's also yet another comic book adaptation done properly. In fact, this may be the first time I wished we could give half-vaults, because it was just that good. In the compendium of comic movies, this falls just shy of the two X-Men movies, but it is right there with Spider-Man and easily surpasses Batman, Superman and The Hulk. The fact that it is an R-rated movie killed any possible chance of decent box-office numbers, but it was a necessary step to take, and the quality of the movie just makes up for it. Hopefully this was Thomas Jane's breakout role.
Tom Jane plays Frank Castle, a broken and confused F.B.I. agent who loses his family to a band of mobsters, who horrifically slaughter every last one of the members of his family, including his extended family. The pain and anger that he deals with causes him to become what he used to hunt down, a murderer who slaughters criminals day and night. His first target is the man responsible for his family's murder, a man named Howard Saint (terrifically played by John Travolta). The suspense and excitement experienced throughout the film eventually unfurls into a dramatic and astonishing conclusion that movie-goers will never forget.
I can't think of anything more to say about this movie, so I will say this: The value of this movie is beyond words. At least 10x better than the original 1989 film starring Dolph Lundgren as the executioner, this is a memorable and unforgettable film that is guaranteed to leave you in awe.
A lot of people like to compare and contrast this 2004 version and the 1989 version, which is kind of pointless since the two versions are complete opposites. They seem to think the 2004 version deludes the character; he doesn't "avenge" as wantonly as he should. All heroes/anti-heroes have some traumatic events that made them who they are.
The 1989 movie was set in the character's "adolesensce" after all the horrible events of his life got to him and made him into the unbridled psycho-avenger we know and love. whereas the 2004 one takes place at the beginning of his madness,; it shows us the character's descention into madness. In effect, throughout the movie is Frank Castle, at the end Frank becomes the Punisher. 10/10
In the picture there are thriller,frenetic action ,drama suspense, emotion and a little bit of blood and gore. Runtime film is adjusted about two hours and isn't bored because is fast moving but happen amount events and for that is entertained and funny. The motion picture has a certain resemblance with Charles Bronson films of the series ¨Death Wish¨for the matter, the avenging, thus one personage ,¨the vigilante¨ makes of judge,jury and executioner. The yarn is an adaptation from a Marvel Comics character created by Gary Conway.Previously was realized the first version with Dolph Lundgren and Lois Gossett JR that was a flop and attained lukewarm reception by the public . However this rendition has obtained many success in the box office in spite of the violence is extreme and some scenes are crude and cruel. The interpretation of the principal actors are nice but the secondary cast with the quirky bunch are magnificent. Cinematography by Conrad W.Hall(Son of the mythic photographer Conrad L.Hall)is excellent. The pic is well directed by Jonathan Hensleigh. Rating: Above average. Well catching
What makes this film work is Thomas Jane's performance as Frank Castle. He nails this role like the way Robert Downey Jr. or Hugh Jackman nail their performances as Iron Man and Wolverine. He's that good and that fun to watch on screen.
Frank Castle aka The Punisher is one of my favorite Marvel characters, director and writer Jonathan Hensleigh does a good job bringing the character to life. Combine that with Thomas Jane's performance, it's pure gold. The characterization and performance of Frank Castle is the film's bright spot. Action sequences and the kills are fun to watch. Hensleigh pays tribute to many action films from the 70's and 80's, one particular is the scene where Frank's wife and child are dead pays homage to Mad Max.
The film does a great job building up Frank Castle's arc. Here is where Johnathan Hensleigh poured his heart and soul into. Everything to do with Frank Castle is all pure gold, however the same cannot be said for the villain. John Travolta does a pretty good job being a merciless business man Howard Saint, and he is obviously has fun with the role. Even so it's very cliché and very two-dimensional despite some good moments.
The supporting cast is good, some have more prominent roles than others. This is a very grim film, but it also adds some layers of levity to ease some tension as it provides some decent humor coming from Ben Foster and John Pinette who portray his neighbors Dave and Bumpo. Eddie Jemison who at first is a lackey for the Saint's becomes his inside man and provides some good wisecracks. Rebecca Romijn portrays Joan, a neighbor and potential love interest, but her character isn't very expanded and is just sort of there. Will Patton is Howard Saint's right hand man and he also delivers a good performance as he gets all the dirty work done for him, but he isn't very fleshed out either.
Although The Punisher's plan is set up brilliantly, I found that it took forever to get it going, I understood what was happening, but I felt as if he could have moved forward with the plan at a more faster and accelerated rate. It only slows the film down in some parts. But make no mistake, when his revenge or so called "punishment" plan is fulfilled, as an audience member you will be pretty darn satisfied.
The Punisher is good film, and out of the three attempts that were brought to the screen, this one is the clear champion. It's not perfect, but it's fun and provides many tense and cringe- worthy moments and plenty of violence. In the end it's Thomas Jane's performance alone that makes this film work.
* Both Frank Castle and Max Rockatansky are cops
* Both were on some sort of leave from the force when their families were murdered. (Frank was with his family celebrating a family reunion, Max is taking a holiday with wife and Baby after his best friend Goose's death).
* Both Max and Frank were hunted down after getting one of the gang members in each movie murdered (Bobby Saint in Punisher, and The NightRider in Mad Max) by accident.
* Max's wife and Baby son were chased down the highway and run over by motorcycles, Frank's wife and son were chased down the jetty and run over by a Red Bronco ute.
* Both Wives and children tried to escape by driving away. Max's wife in the Sandman, and Frank's wife in the Bronco with a boat attached.
* Both Max and Frank end up becoming renagade cops and end up hunting down the baddies.
* Oh yeah and both drive converted cars, which are both coloured Black, and have V8 Motors. Frank's car was a Pontiac GTO,done up with metal venetian window shields, Max's car was a Ford Falcon XB coupe, V8 351 (The Black Interceptor).
Overall, I loved The Punisher. Its not your average Comic book movie. He doesn't have special powers like Spiderman, and The Hulk, and Hellboy do, he's just a normal guy, taking out his anger the way normal people would do...In extreme circumstances.
Director Jonathan Hensleigh has changed the story around from the original comic book. Many changes were for budget reasons, but also updates in time to bring the story into the present (2004ish) and not the 1970s when the Punisher originally debuted with Marvel. However, the ruthless spirit of a powerful avenger is here and Thomas Jane fits the part almost perfectly with his almost John McClane approach to the role making a believable hero: one that is tough as nails, but critically not invincible. One who uses his brain as much as his brawn, and gets himself out of outrageous situations with his lethal array of weapons: spring loaded knives, grenades, stashed guns, assault rifles, and the list goes on. However avid readers of the long running comic book may find the film tame in comparison, but as far as comic book adaptations go this is one of the best recent ones right up there with SpiderMan.
Dolph Lundgren's 1990 version still has some merits, but this film is better in almost every respect. Most notably, in this film, the title hero actually has his infamous skull shirt, and the storyline is drawn much more directly from the original comics. 8/10
Rated R: strong violence, brutality, and profanity.
I'd definitely place this closer to something like Sin City than Spiderman, deadly serious with a few funny moments (it has the funniest torture scene in any movie I've seen) So is this a rent or buy? It depends on how you feel about a tragic revenge story, If its not so much you're thing, rent it. For those who like it, they like it a lot it seems.
Can't wait for a possible sequel and where they take Frank Castle's Punisher character Overall an 8 out of 10 by me
The brilliance of this movie comes from the uneasy nature in which you spend your two hours riveted to the story. Yes, I did say brilliance. At first, you get that uneasy feeling as you watch the director set up a story which is pretty much common knowledge. You know that Frank's wife and son are going to get it. So, the exposition that sets up his love for his family and the tender moments they share are uneasy, sorrowful and touching. After the Punisher revs up into full `Punishing' mode, you're uneasy at the way in which he is dispatching villain after villain. I was squirming in my chair and I wasn't the only one in the theatre doing so. Sure it's violent but it borders on sadistic violence. What's makes you the most uneasy is the fact that you are actually enjoying the carnage. These guys are so vile and are so deserving of their `Punishment' but you still have guilt to go along with the pleasure of seeing Frank really cut loose. If you've seen The Punisher trailer then you see an image of him firing an arrow. You have NO idea where that arrow ends up but boy, that must have hurt. The one thing you don't have to worry about with this film is if the villain will get his. I hate movies that go so far to develop a villain as truly evil by having him do despicable things after despicable things but have his demise be quick at movies end. Well, you will feel sorry for Travolta's character at the end of this film and he does some very horrible things himself during the duration of this movie. Overall, this film is an emotional journey that will make you squirm. I experienced all of the following emotions while watching this movie: revulsion, sadness, satisfaction, compassion, anger, laughter, envy, thrills and thanks to multiple product placement, I really had to have a shot of Wild Turkey when I went home!
The thing I like most about Frank Castle/The Punisher (Thomas Jane) is that he is not too over the top unbelievable... and he's mean! Who would not be after going through what he went through? Frank Castle is a war veteran turned FBI agent and he is on his last mission before retirement. He hopes to get through it without any casualties but, alas, somebody has always got to do something stupid or there would not be a story. Anyways, a son of Howard Saint (John Travolta) is inevitably killed, which makes both Howard and his wife, Livia Saint (Laura Harring), thirst for revenge against those responsible. Somehow, they get the name and whereabouts of Frank Castle, who has retired and is at a family reunion in Puerto Rico. They send a group of assassins who swiftly and callously execute every member of Castle's family and believe they have killed Castle, himself, but he has somehow survived.
From that point on, Frank is healing and going on a drinking binge, all the while plotting his revenge on Howard Saint. He does not refer to it as revenge, however, because that is more of an emotion. He calls it "punishment", thus his new moniker.
Once The Punisher goes all out, there are all kinds of nice fights and scenes that show the nature and anger of The Punisher. I thought there would be a lot more violence (as I had played the ultra-violent video game before seeing the movie) but I thought what they showed was pretty good. There will be plenty more if they make a sequel. Maybe, if we are lucky, we could eventually start having the crossovers like in the comics, with Spider-Man vs Punisher, etc.
This is one of Marvel's better efforts, following Hulk and Daredevil. I enjoy all of them, but this one stood out for me and is up there with Spider-Man and X-Men in my book. 8.5/10