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Overall Rating
2.43

Awesome: 16.42%
Worth A Look: 12.69%
Average: 8.96%
Pretty Bad: 20.9%
Total Crap41.04%

6 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Punisher, The (2004)
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by Scott Weinberg

"The Mafia slaughtered my family and all I got was this stupid T-shirt."
2 stars

'Schizophrenic' is a word you'll see movie critics use from time to time, and never has it been more appropriate than when describing "The Punisher" - the latest Marvel adaptation to surface at the multiplex, and easily the silliest thus far. What begins as an obvious and ill-conceived piece of "gritty" revenge thriller gradually becomes a full-blown unintentional farce of epic proportions. Rare is the movie that makes such a speedy trip between Maudlin-ville and Hilarious-town.

As The Punisher opens and we're introduced to Frank Castle, we know his family is going to be killed right quick. In an effort to expedite this process, the prologue sees the inadvertent murder of a crime boss' eldest son, the dispatch an unfortunate side effect of Castle's latest drug bust. When the swankily evil Howard Saint learns of his son's demise, he (under orders from his evil and grieving wife) condemns Castle's family to death.

And by 'family' I mean family. Back in the day, Paul Kersey went on a Death Wish rampage of vengeance due to one rape and one murder. Precisely thirty years later, our society is at a point where it take the wholesale slaughter of an entire extended family to get our blood boiling enough to earn some nasty cinematic vengeance. While enjoying a big, sunny family reunion in Puerto Rico, Castle's wife and son, his mom and dad, his cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and even a few unfortunate waiters - are killed in less than four minutes.

Castle somehow avoids death (despite being shot in the chest) and re-emerges...as...The Punisher.

Although "punisher" is perhaps overstating Castle's new role. He doesn't so much as punish his tormenters as he does incite marital strife and inter-relationship stresses. More of a gloomy big-screen adaptation of that goofy old Equalizer series than any sort of rah-rah Revenge Flick, The Punisher is equal parts boring, dull and painfully familiar.

The only thing that rescues screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh's directorial debut from being completely worthless is something he probably never intended: The Punisher is a hilarious movie. Like Mommie Dearest hilarious.

The big problem, among several, is that of a curiously (and blatantly uncomfortable) incongruous balance between grim drama and unwitting farce. Had The Punisher not opened with a scene depicting the brutal murder of old men and small children, one could perhaps take the remaining movie as a silly little action yarn, but when things start turning silly, it's the reminder of the earlier slaughter that casts a grimy taste in one's throat.

Aside from the maniacally overwrought dialogue, we're offered a laundry list of actors in full-on Over-Emote Mode. Thomas Jane (as the titular punishment-dispenser) does as well as can be expected; he seems to think he's in a straight-faced action movie and delivers the best work possible under such arcane circumstances. Everyone else (including the one-note Laura Harring and poor Will Patton, saddled with a role that nobody could salvage) plays the flick as broad as the side of a barn.

Even the most basic requirement of an action film (that'd be the action) is muddled and murky. To say the thrills in The Punisher are few and far between would be a polite way of putting it. Barring one extended brawl between Castle and a goofy looking hulk, the action sequences consist of either A) people with machine guns or B) John Travolta chewing scenery. And come on, how convincing could an action scene with John Travolta be these days?

Presumptuously (and unforgivably) unspooling for over 120 minutes, 'The Punisher' offers very little in the departments of Action, Acting or Cohesive Plot. It does, however, deliver derisive snorts by the boatload while presenting a clear downside to the popularity afforded guys like Spider-Man and the X-Men. This was one of the final big-budget movies bankrolled by Artisan before they were bought up by Lions Gate; if this was Artisan's idea of a 'tentpole' blockbuster, they're probably better off where they are now: gone.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9242&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/16/04 14:02:26
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User Comments

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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