Sunday, April 18, 2004

Notes on The Punisher


3 / 5


Tom Jane is Frank Castle, FBI. John Travolta is Howard Saint, criminal. On his last assignment, his fellow agents shoot several criminals, among them Howard Saint's son. For revenge, Saint murders Castle's entire family: wife, son, mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone. Castle survives, because it would be a short movie otherwise. Castle then decides to return the favor.


If Tom Jane hadn't spent so much of the movie shirtless, often in low slung jeans, and if the director hadn't so often called attention to these with his camerawork, I probably would have rated the movie 2 / 5.

When you leave the theater thinking, "Rebecca Romijn-Stamos - not such a bad actress," you know none of the actors are winning the Oscar for their performances in this movie, and probably not for any other, either.

On a related note, John Travolta - why? Is he that cheap? Because if he isn't, I'd buy a cheaper actor and spend the money on more fire and blood. Or simply set the bloody money on fire.

There's a gay character in this movie. He's Travolta's enforcer. He slaughters members of Castle's family, shoots him, burns him, and tortures his friends. Nice. Ultimately, Travolta murders him because Travolta believes that he's sleeping with Travolta's wife. You just can't win, can you? Hispanic characters also trend evil. Again, nice.

As far as trucks running down mommas and their babies are concerned, Mad Max is still the better movie. Saw that scene when I was a kid - still scary. The Punisher's version? Strangely unmoving.

Other than Jane's flawless skin, the sequences involving the hitmen Harry Heck and The Russian were worth the price of admission. Fast, fun and funny, both have a surreal quality sadly absent from the rest of the movie. Jane is great here, where he shares our disbelief at the escalating absurdity of the fights, especially in the case of The Russian.