The Punisher (2004)

 

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Undercover agent Frank Castle’s sting operation causes the death of a criminal kingpin’s son who promptly has his entire family executed in retribution, causing him to become a heavily armed vigilante sworn to vengeance.

I never read The Punisher comics, mainly because I didn’t really find the idea of a character who was just another meat head with a gun who had no powers or mystical back story very interesting; if that is in fact an accurate description of the character, then the film has done a very good job of adapting it. In fact I don’t really understand at whom this film is supposed to be aimed; the attempts at humour that mainly involve the wacky nerds who live next door are childish and puerile, but the 18 certificate and grim violence mean that children are supposedly not the intended audience. The characters are all two dimensional even by the standards of a comic strip, their relationships completely unconvincing and the performances nondescript and bland, which is not helped by unimaginative direction that completely lacks the kind of visual flair that makes a comic book movie work. It is clearly trying to ape the atmosphere and tone of Batman or The Crow but the writers and director obviously don’t realise that “gratuitously violent” is not the same as “dark”. Basically all The Punisher involves is  a muscleman in black shoot lots of extras with fat necks and bad haircuts, which means it’s indistinguishable from every other Hollywood action film.

In its defence it is not boring, but in the end this Punisher is less a superhero than a Jean Claude Van Damme wannabe in an emo T-shirt.

4/10

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