This movie was excellent, not as a neo-noir gritty film but purely as a comic book film designed to be just that: a comic book film.
We tend to take comic book movies a little too seriously nowadays. Ever since Frank Miller made Batman into a grittier version of himself it seems like everyone is trying to do the same thing over and over again. Look at Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy, it doesn’t really say anything new about Batman, it puts a new face, technology, and spin on it all but never really changes the material much at all. Batman is Batman and there isn’t anything new. The Trilogy itself is heavily influenced by the Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns” series, some of the same times frames are used, the broken older warrior that is Batman, the new villain that he breaks only after being beaten first. The list goes on, but we’re not here to talk about Batman, we’re here to talk about Punisher and his 2008 film venture that was a rip-roaring good time.
The film traded the arguably prettier Thomas Jane for the bigger, bolder, and admittedly fatter Ray Stevenson, and took the noir and nuance right out the Punisher. The 2004 feature staring Thomas Jane seemingly tried a bit too hard to be taken seriously, while the 2008 Ray Stevenson version, directed by former stunt-woman Lexi Alexander, doesn’t take itself seriously at all.
The ridiculous amount of violence, the casual attitude that Frank Castle has with the violence, and the beautiful style in which the film is shot, all make for an entertaining time. It’s exactly like a comic book, not serious just fun. As every comic book movie should be.
Let’s look at 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy directed by James Gunn, the film is goofy, fun, interesting, action packed, and once again doesn’t take itself that seriously. The film was as fun to watch as I’m sure it was to make, and then it grossed $765.1 million, sure Punisher: War Zone didn’t make anywhere near that much many, it didn’t even cover it’s own budget. But both films were awesome to watch, they were interesting and ridiculous: just like comic books.
Punisher: War Zone didn’t put some weird spin on the character of Frank Castle, they didn’t make him a sympathetic hero of any sort, he was this larger huff-and-puffing, kevlar clad, gun wielding, terminator killing thugs and criminals with precision and brutality; just like the Frank Castle of the comics we hold dear. Sure there are differences but for the most part, the violence in the film is taken directly out of the comics, almost bullet for bullet.
This isn’t supposed to be an in-depth review (sorry), this movie was just a well executed take on a comic book character, and here I just wanted to let it be known that this move was so much better than it was made out to be. Do you want to laugh and enjoy yourself? Do you enjoy watching criminals get slaughtered by a one man army? Do you like big men with skulls on their kevlar trying to out do himself with every kill? Then watch this movie, if only out of our cultural blood lust for gore and mayhem.