I am a fan of the Punisher. I like the character, what he stands for, and his look. I wouldn’t say I was a “extreme fanboy” and I can deal with changes, let’s say, to bring the character to a different medium. I was real bummed when I missed the chance to see this in the theaters, and real excited to watch this today, the day of it’s DVD release.
That being said, this was a pretty faithful adaptation to the character of the Punisher. Unfortunately, it was an adaptation of the crappy 80’s comics, with the modern incarnation’s gore.
I won’t go into the story too much, because there really wasn’t one. Opening Titles. Punisher has mob guys to kill. Punisher kills them. End titles.
But the movie as a whole felt insulting. They knew what the fans were wanting to see, and made sure to include those elements (bloody violence, certain characters from the comics, flashbacks to the “park”). But in looking at all the details, they lost the point.
I understand that this movie was made cheaply, and I think they did a wonderful job with the “look” of the film. The action, the gore, the cinematography, the lighting, the sets, all marvelous.
But the acting? The acting was downright awful. I can’t say one good thing here. Everybody was over the top, and at first I thought I was going to enjoy it, but it quickly shifted from “quirky” to “annoying”. Honestly, I can’t tell you that one single performance in this movie was good. Oh wait, Wayne Knight as Microchip was actually pretty decent. But he was in the movie for all of 5 minutes. The worst part is that for the most part, they cast decent actors. I have heard that Ray Stevenson is good in his “Rome” TV show. I thought he was pretty lousy here. I had no problems with them “re-casting” Tom Jane, but Tom did a superior job as a believable Frank Castle, despite looking much more scrawny than Ray. Doug Hutchinson is a good actor. He is great on LOST, and plays a subtle creepy son-of-a-bitch really well (see The Green Mile). So what does he play here? A crazy psychopath known as “Looney Bin Jim” who likes to smash his head into things and eat live kidneys in the most over-the-top manner possible. You are better than this, Doug. Finally let’s talk about Dominic West as Billy Russo aka Jigsaw. Dominic is good in the Cable show “The Wire” and was decent in last year’s “300”. He can do a brooding intensity pretty well. Too bad he tried to play the Joker in this movie. …and by Joker I mean the Cesar Romero version from the 60’s. He was so over the top it was embarassing. I actually felt embarassed for the guy. He could have played Jigsaw with a seething rage, hatred boiled over into pure nastiness. Instead he played a cartoon.
The writing felt as if was lifted directly from the old “Punisher War Zone” comics. Yes. LITERALLY. Every painful leap in logic, and the badly written dialogue, and lets not forget the flat, uninteresting characters. Ugh. Every moment that was meant to come off as “funny” fell right on a wrought iron fence, spraying blood all over.
If you are a Punisher fan, you will want to see this movie, and I am not going to stop you. But let me tell you… it’s not good. It LOOKS really good, and with these ingredients, I am certain that an excellent Punisher film could have been made. But this is not that movie. I lay the blame on the script first of all, and the Director next. Lexi Alexander shows she can do action sequences, and the fight choreography was pretty good. But she can’t handle actors actually acting. They needed to be “reigned in” on this movie, and I think she tried to push them further over the top, which was the absolute wrong way to go.
As for the DVD itself? I rented from Redbox, and it was pretty much a bare-bones disc. The menu was kinda pretty in a manly sort of way, I guess.
This is a definite rental, and I wouldn’t even pay more than the Redbox $1 a night. I’m talking this sucker back in the morning.