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Overall Rating
2.39

Awesome: 16.06%
Worth A Look: 12.41%
Average: 8.76%
Pretty Bad: 20.44%
Total Crap42.34%

6 reviews, 101 user ratings


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Punisher, The (2004)
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by Chris Parry

"How could they miss the point - again?"
2 stars

The first Punisher movie was awful. Cheap. Incompetent. Forgettable. Tedious. That always really pissed me off, because (I'll admit it) back in the day, I was a mad collector of The Punisher comics. I had boxes of the things, and not because I was one of those geeky teen-art collectors who was under the misguided notion that one day my hobby would be worth something, but just because The Punisher was a great dark character who seemed rooted in reality... kinda. Unfortunately, people who make movies about The Punisher seem to do so without ever having read the freaking thing, and in turn their movies are the same old crap without even a different smell. Ergo, the latest cinematic incarnation of The Punisher, once again, sucks ass.

Frank Castle was a law man with incredible skills in armed, unarmed and tactical combat. An ex-soldier melding of Batman and McGyver, he could build you a weapon out of knitting needles and a dead horse, then use that weapon to launch an attack on an army base, using nothing more than know-how, surprise, and a grim determination to succeed, no matter what. Why would he do such a thing? Because his family were wiped out by mobsters in Central Park. Enraged and swearing vengeance against every bad guy on the planet, Frank Castle became The Punisher, a lone vigilante engaging in a one-man war against bad, using high tech weaponry, low tech guts, and the innate ability to find a way out of any situation, no matter how bad he was beaten up.

At least, that was the ORIGINAL Punisher. The one with the fanbase. This new Punisher is Thomas Jane in a bad T-shirt, having had his entire family gunned down one by one during a remote island reunion. And when I say entire family, I mean what I say. Pity the third cousin of Frank Castle if he managed to scrape together the airfare to turn up at this shindig.

Luckily, Castle survives the attack, despite being shot in the chest, point blank. He's dragged off by a friendly fisherman and brought back to full health, whereby he begins his plan to repay the deaths of his family to the man responsible - played in this part by John "thinks he's an action hero" Travolta.

This should have been where it gets great. Instead, this is where Frank Castle takes out an apartment in a crappy building, befriends some wacky neighbors, including the requisite superhot waitress who has always been beaten by bad guys and just wants to help, the fat guy who makes stupid jokes, and the bad kid with plenty of face metal who would die for a guy he met last Tuesday.

Why are these people here? Comic relief, and a little romantic tension. Or you could say they're there to fill time without expensive action sequences. Or you could say they're there because it would have been too hard for the hacks writing this screenplay to work such things into the actual plot. Or you could say they're establishing characters for use in a sequel. Whatever.

It all amounts to dick. Just as Joel Schumacher didn't realize that the core of Batman is a reluctant hero trying to deal with his own demons while exorcising those of the citizens around him, so too does first time director (and screenwriter) Jonathan Hensleigh in this film. Castle has no personality, no real remorse, and quite frankly no reason to cheer him on. Gone is the issue of Castle fighting the reality that he has become what he hates. Gone are the moments of real reflection on how the world has become so messed up. Gone are the gunfights and military tactics that allow Castle to take on forces far stronger than he.

In fact, gone is any pretension that reality is an issue. When Castle goes to take on the bad guys, there are no alarms, no guards, no watchtowers, no dogs, no barriers of any kind stopping him from walking in the front door. And even when he does walk in the front door, the only guy on the bottom floor of the bad guy's mansion is taken out with one swish of a small knife.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is too stupid to believe. I'm not saying Castle should have to gun down 900 men without changing a magazine, but I am saying that if I'm at war with a man who won't die, I'll be damned if I'm going to have my entire force of henchmen in my living room drinking champagne, rather than patrolling the perimeter. The few actual moments of action in this film revolve around a massive Russian manbeast who gets stabbed in the heart and smile (Yeah, there's some reality for you) and a kid getting his facial piercings ripped out. The rest is utter toss of the lowest order.

And for God's sake, will someone please put an end to the practice of giving first time filmmakers $50m to experiment with? Writers - if you want to direct, go make a fucking short and prove yourself first.

Read the comics and enjoy. Watch the movie and yawn.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9242&reviewer=1
originally posted: 05/26/04 09:01:38
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User Comments

1/26/19 Dr. Lao It was silly 1 stars
9/22/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS 1 stars
6/22/15 David Hollingsworth not even thomas jane's muscles can save this piece of junk 1 stars
10/30/13 The Big D The guy sitting next to you wasn't farting; the stench came from the movie! 1 stars
9/25/13 David Hollingsworth A gay man's wet dream, and not in a good way 1 stars
2/20/11 Ark Basicallly a turd, I found the '89 version actually funny ! 2 stars
8/03/09 David A. A rugged individual gets mad and goes on a kill rampage--that's all it is. 1 stars
2/06/09 cody a very good action movie, thomas jane is awesome as frank castle. let thebodies hit !!!! 4 stars
10/22/08 Dan Wasn't a great movie, but damn it was pretty cool. Good acting and really good country song 4 stars
10/02/08 Shaun Wallner Intense Action!! 5 stars
8/22/08 PAUL SHORTT AN UNRELENTING ASSAULT ON GOOD TASTE AND INTELLIGENCE 1 stars
10/25/07 Monday Morning Needed more tits, drugs and gunplay but still good 5 stars
8/07/07 Johnny Tom Jane is one Grade A slab of beefcake, great eye-candy for the women & gay guys at least 4 stars
7/23/07 johnnyfog Great battles!...But bookended with heinous violence that made me depressed. 4 stars
6/05/07 The Peacemaker A different and unique style of "punishmen". Well done. 4 stars
2/10/07 Frank Rountree Real stunts and stuntmen! No CGI crap! Good action movie 4 stars
1/04/07 Alex Thorne Chris Parry, u are wrong!. they had $2 mill and 1 month to shoot. ace film!!! TJ rocks! 5 stars
12/12/06 Morow A kik ass movie 5 stars
11/02/06 R.W.Welch Popcorn flick; passable for the genre. 3 stars
10/17/06 Sugarfoot A fun film, I liked the Dolph Lundgren one also though. 4 stars
10/16/06 Pritchett It was better than HULK, but...that's not saying much, is it? 1 stars
9/26/06 Jarkko Perälä Simply, irredeemably unlikable 1 stars
9/17/06 dan thepunish crash great film loved it, great start to many more to come. cant wait to see punisher2. 5 stars
9/09/06 matt probably the worst comic book movie ever, even worse than spawn 1 stars
8/15/06 George Goodman One of The most enjoyable films I've ever seen 5 stars
5/03/06 Anthony Feor Travolta brings the rating down, but Tom Jane is on the right track 2 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Average revenge flick. lose the 3 circus freak sidekicks and it's watchable. 3 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch In a dead-on tie with HULK (of shit) and BLADE 1 & 3 for worst Marvel movie ever made! 1 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs I did get an enema instead...'saw this later on DVD...'enjoyed the enema more. 1 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby I wish I had gotten an enema instead. 1 stars
10/12/05 Jennifer Free A lot of gore. 1 stars
10/10/05 Biz-e WATCH OUT FOR THE SHIT-BOMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
10/08/05 Jonathon Holmes John Travilta should be ashamed of himself for signing on to this turd 1 stars
9/26/05 tony Tom jane was better in deep blue sea.Also, Travolta needs to get a life 2 stars
9/23/05 Jakub Were they trying to punish the audience?! Or just bore them to death??? 1 stars
9/16/05 drippy Wow...how could they fuck up a simple revenge tale TWO TIMES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? 1 stars
9/12/05 matt big steaming pile of CRAP 1 stars
9/07/05 Bitchum This movie was poop on a stick. 1 stars
9/05/05 JubJub I don't think they could have made it more boring, stupid, and just plain B-A-D!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
9/03/05 Craven I didn't think they could screw it up worse than the Lundgren film...I was wrong. 1 stars
9/02/05 Mailk I walked out of the theater and, once I stopped laughing, forgot everything I'd just seen. 1 stars
9/02/05 Edward What a disappointment...all those years for them to get it right this time...wasted. 1 stars
9/01/05 unlimited Makes the 1989 version look like a masterpiece of comic-book perfection! 1 stars
8/31/05 Vasquez they've crafted the most boring, pointless, and stupid revenge film ever made. 1 stars
8/30/05 Brisbane God...they just had no clue, did they? Not a single clue. So sad and pathetic, this is. 1 stars
8/16/05 ES Mr. Travolta shows us the same bad guy from swordfish, broken arrow, battlefield earth... 1 stars
7/25/05 Scott "Made you kill your best friend. Made you kill your wife. Now I've killed you." 5 stars
5/28/05 cinkcool cheesy junk 1 stars
5/25/05 Jake Highly Underrated. I don't understand why a lot of people hate this flick. 5 stars
5/17/05 what? yeah, like we've never seen this shit before 1 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold There's a brief sequence at the end where he's actually "The Punisher". What the hell? 2 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Explosive and enjoyable! Worth the time. Great movie if you weren't into the comic. 5 stars
1/04/05 carlos r guzman the last 15 minutes more accurate w/ comic, but the rest of film was comic-al 1 stars
12/11/04 the Grinch Makes the original Punisher movie look like Die Hard 1 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams God, this was bad. I cheered when his family got WASTED! 2 stars
11/24/04 DaveDaRave The mad max of my generation. Dark moody, loved it 4 stars
11/18/04 hoy pinoy ako 1 stars
11/16/04 Dunce I can't believe I'm saying this but it's true - THE DOLPH LUNDGREN FILM IS BETTER. 1 stars
11/09/04 chaz The costume, plot, characters are NOTHING like the comic. 2 stars
11/08/04 i have huge eyes christos has big eyes 5 stars
10/23/04 LilyM Unexpectedly enjoyable. Ending's a letdown, though. 4 stars
10/10/04 Matt Waterhouse Far better than indicated by reviews like this. Old-school revenge flick that does the job! 4 stars
9/26/04 Viktor Navorski why movie bad??? movie not bad!!!!! 5 stars
9/24/04 Agent Sands GREAT action sequences. Some of the most well-staged violence in recent memory. Good score. 5 stars
9/16/04 CK it was better than daredevil or hulk and i think anyone who liked those others is nuts! 5 stars
9/12/04 Gray w Vicious said plus I loved the popcicle scene 3 stars
9/08/04 Scott Hoffman The Guiltiest Pleasure I Have Spent In A Long Time!!!! 5 stars
9/08/04 Vicious Better than expected but the Punisher demands to be darker, more violent Tarentino-ish 4 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge Worth every penny i spent and will spend! 5 stars
8/14/04 terrence garner punisher should have been more heartless. He's definitley better at hand-to-hand combat!!! 4 stars
7/31/04 Nikolai This side toward adolescents easily separated from their wallets 1 stars
7/13/04 Chris LOVED IT and I'm a hardcore Punisher fan 5 stars
7/08/04 cap8al great movie 5 stars
6/26/04 malcolm hilarious! what? what do u mean it wasn't a comedy? 2 stars
6/26/04 M As bad as SPAWN! but delicious eye candy 2 stars
6/12/04 Shawn Awesome!! movie critics dont know shit 5 stars
6/07/04 Ninja Williams Action Packed 5 stars
6/05/04 alien assassin Sick rubbish 1 stars
6/04/04 Mr. me Great fun! fuck the idiots who think it sucked 4 stars
5/29/04 Cameron Slick Disgusting and poorly adapted comic book movie grinding its superhero into reality. 1 stars
5/26/04 Hilarium Completely missed the point of the character. Where's the conflict? Whare's the action? 2 stars
5/09/04 Stephanie LOVED IT, I HOPE THERE IS A PUNISHER 2 5 stars
5/06/04 Ajax Horrible, horrible stuff. Like Death Wish part 56, only worse. 1 stars
5/04/04 John The film was alright, despite the bullshit that the movie critics usually spew out. 4 stars
4/26/04 Meryl We laughed through the whole thing - my god, it was awful. 1 stars
4/25/04 astrotart Survey Says: Thomas Jane, shirtless through half the movie, was directing at its best!!! 4 stars
4/25/04 Me okay 3 stars
4/24/04 AfroFett Punisher's "origin" and Ennis-style humor didn't mix too well 3 stars
4/23/04 CrowEater What did you expect the first "Punisher" movie starred Dolph Lundgren!! 2 stars
4/22/04 Mark Planteri What else can you expect from John Travlota? 1 stars
4/22/04 meat-cheese-dirt fine filmmaking if you're retarded and on crack 1 stars
4/20/04 KingNeutron Nice to see the gal from Broken Arrow again; hard to watch (torture scene) in spots, but OK 4 stars
4/20/04 Andrew this movie was awesome, i hope they make a 2nd one, it stayed true to most of the stories 5 stars
4/20/04 Mike V It's a great, dark, R-rated, comic book movie. 4 stars
4/19/04 A F If the whole thing wasn't bad enough, he had to say "Call me The Punisher". Call me Bored. 1 stars
4/19/04 luke good movie 5 stars
4/19/04 Christina never read the comic, but damn was it THIS bad? 1 stars
4/18/04 Maxx2004 If you like the comic avoid the movie, an insult to the work of Garth Ennis and Marvel 1 stars
4/18/04 Severe Grisley tale of a man who avenges 30 murders by commiting about as many himself. Brilliant. 3 stars
4/18/04 Unknown Very horrid film. 1 stars
4/17/04 nuked what a crap load of a movie. go read a comic instead. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Apr-2004 (R)
  DVD: 21-Nov-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Jun-2004




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