Third time’s a charm for Punisher
“Punisher War Zone”
Marvel Knights, 2008
If you can ignore the fact that this is the third attempt at bringing Frank Castle’s tale to big screen, you will love Punisher: War Zone. This is really what every Punisher film so far should have been: Gory, over-the-top action punctuated by the loss that Castle suffers.
With his family and humanity lost to senseless gang violence, Castle has to go the route of the Punisher. There is no other way and Lexi Alexander does an excellent job digging into the motif of Castle’s desire to lose himself in death. Using quick action shots, detailed costumes and a penchant for showing the worst ways to kill a man, War Zone achieves the effect that should have already been achieved by two previous actors: Death by Punisher.
War Zone’s Castle, Ray Stevenson, has the look of a man consumed with rage and revenge. He wears Castle’s raw emotions on his face well, and he makes an excellent dark anti-hero mired in a cesspool of a city.
Dominic West (who was also in last quarter’s review subject 300) is also excellent. Villains have become his strong suit and Jigsaw is a testament to his ability to take a character, immerse and make himself unrecognizable. Doug Hutchinson is a surprise standout as well. Having impressed us in his previous soap opera roles, he plays mentally insane well here. The other characters are rather stereotypical but they don’t necessarily get in the way of the story.
Overall Punisher: War Zone should have had a better draw in the movie industry. It received a bad rap because of its late-to-the-party status and drama surrounding production, but it really is a good adaptation of a comic book franchise and deserves to put ahead of the other attempts to bring the Punisher to the big screen.
How we grade
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.
Like the comics?: 10/10
Overall rating: 9