Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Punisher: War Zone (Movie Review)

Producers set out to create a Punisher movie with a "hard R" rating, and they succeeded. But did they do much better this time in overall movie making? Depends on what you buy your ticket for.

Although I'm a huge comic book geek, I've never followed the Punisher. I know the basic concept. A man sees his family killed and so dedicates his life to revenge, utilizing lots and lots of guns. In a sense, the Punisher is a lethal take on the Batman concept, but without the theatrics. His psychology is more straight-forward than Bruce Wayne's, although my understanding is that Frank Castle has some religious background (specifically catholic, I believe) that makes for some interesting potential.

My review of this movie is not from the perspective of a "Punisher fan" but from a comic book geek with limited knowledge of the source material. I can't compare it to the comics, but I can decide on whether or not I thought it was a good movie.

Ray Stevenson give us a solid if unmemorable performance. He's got a strong Steven Segal vibe(when he's not talking) that turns me off a bit. I kept looking for a little ponytail behind that slicked back hair.

The direction of the film is handled well and the film more than earns its "R". It is brutally violent with plenty of blood, although not "action packed". Despite lots of guns and explosions, it doesn't feel like a full-on action flick. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Punisher is merciless and efficient, and you'll see a number of shocking deaths that will make you cringe or recoil. Not for the weak stomach.

The film doesn't do a complete reboot of the franchise and could be enjoyed as a pseudo sequel to the Thomas Jane movie. Although this film is more true to what I know of the source material in terms of its dark feel. (This Punisher wouldn't use a popsical. He'd really fry the guy!)

There's some potential for drama in the script, but I never really became attached to any of the characters. This made the action less exciting. Frank is one bad mamma-jamma, but since I rarely feared for his safety, the brutality of the action was the only interesting part. Good for a one time shock, but not much replay value.

If you have a dark sense of humor, there are some great moments in this flick that will probably leave you laughing out loud. In several instances, Frank does what we always want the hero to do in other movies, instead of being the "good guy". An overall enjoyable flick, but one that can probably wait for a DVD rental.

In terms of Relevance, this movie can definitely lead to conversation of value. The concept of Justice runs through the entire film, though not by name. We all know that it is wrong to take the law into our own hands, and yet when we see Justice brought about by vigilantism when nothing else is working, there is something inside of us that says, "Yes! That's how it should be."

Despite our desire to downplay the wrathful part of God's personality, we yearn for judgment when evil goes unpunished and mocks Justice while escaping. There's a part of us all that sees the wrong things in this world. The evil that seems to go unchecked. So when we see someone in a film like this taking control and bringing justice, there is something satisfying about it. At one point in the film, Frank also says, "Sometimes I'd like to get my hands on God." In light of the themes of the film you can take that conversation where you will. It will probably make for an interesting one.

Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use

Quality: 8.0/10

Relevance :8.0/10

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