Ror Revisits: Punisher: Warzone
Here is the second in my Punisher revisits. Could Lexi Alexander and Ray Stephenson improve on Jonathan Hensleigh and Thomas Jane? Click to find out...
Its been a while since my last revisit but since I decided to do The Punishers, I wanted to stick to it and wait until I finally mustered up the nerve to pop this one in the player again. Well, that time has come!
Punisher: Warzone was originally conceived as a direct sequel to 2007's Punisher, and was to have Tom Jane reprise the role. But that fell apart(apparently because he didn't like the script..big shocker there!) and the role was recast with Rome's Ray Stephenson as the ruthless vigilante. The resulting film still works as a sequel of sorts, much the way Louis Letterier's The Incredible Hulk does to Ang Lee's first movie. Frank Castle is already established as The Punisher, and is waging a one man war on crime. His latest targets are an established mob family whom he promptly wipes out at the beginning, but top enforcer Billy Russoti escapes. That is, until Frank catches up to him and shreds his face of in a glass crusher! Unfortunately as this is happening Frank also guns down an undercover cop posing as one of Billy's goons. Wracked with guilt, Frank decides to put The Punisher to rest, but when word reaches him that Billy survived and is reborn as Jigsaw(think Jack to Joker in Burton's first Batman film), Frank is forced to go to war against Jigsaw, his brother Looney Bin Jim and a whole host of disposable bad guys in order to protect the wife and child of the cop he killed, all the while evading the "Punisher Task Force".
That is literally the entire plot of this film. It doesn't get any deeper than that. There is nothing else to it. The Punisher murders people, people try to not get murdered. Now I'm sure if your a Punisher fan sitting reading this your thinking "Duh Ror, that's the whole point". Well, maybe to you it is. Maybe you like reading Punisher comics to see him kill people. Personally, I was never a fan as I said in my last review, BUT, I did enjoy Garth Ennis's run on the comic which this movie is frequently referenced as being faithful to. And that is a load of crap. Ennis delved into the nature of vigilantism and what it actually means to be as black and white a killer as Frank Castle is. There was more to it that just mayhem and murder. Here its all summed up in one line: "Who Punishes The Punisher". That's yer lot. The action/violence IS rightfully brutal, if totally over the top at times. And I have to admit to enjoying some of those scenes quite a bit. Heads are blown off, faces caved in, people blown up in mid air. Director Lexi Alexander does seem to have a decent eye for the carnage. Performance wise, Stephenson is.. adequate. In other words, he puts about as much effort into playing a stone cold emotionless character as needs be..but nothing extra. And the script(which is AWFUL, at least a 9 on the eye rollameter)) probably does him no favors. He certainly looks the part mind you. The usually reliable Dominic West is unbelievably over the top as Jigsaw..but not in a good way. Basically, he's shit. As is every single other performance on display here with the possible exception of Doug Hutchison as Looney Bin Jim who is, like Stephenson, merely adequate. You can't even blame the actors, If I had been cast in this mess I wouldn't have made any effort either. I actually found it boring. When a film features more than a dozen exploding heads is boring you know something is not right. It lurches from scene to scene, a cliche here, a mumble there, stop for Jigsaw and Jim to march down the road like muppets there. All over the place, not my cuppa tea at all.
But that being said, I am aware that many fans of The Punisher like this movie. Maybe if I was more of one, or understood the character's appeal, I would get more out of it. But I can only review movie for what it is, regardless of it's source material or who it may be aimed at. And below is what I feel to be a fair rating.
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