Comic property review: “Punisher War Zone”

Photo cour­tesy of

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.

Cast­ing: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Like the comics?: 10/10
Over­all rat­ing: 9

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