PaulRom Reviews: The Punisher (2004)

PaulRom Reviews: <I>The Punisher</i> (2004)

In the first of my Punisher reviews, I take on what many can agree is the best incarnation of Frank Castle so far. Is it as mediocre as critics suggest? Click here for my take...

My last film review was for Jonah Hex, a film that I didn't get to see until a year after its release. Now, I decide to review another film I'm late in reviewing. That's right, I haven't seen any Punisher films until the other day, when I finally got around to watching the Thomas Jane film released in 2004. I've seen chunks of it in the past, but never in its entirety. I was originally turned off by all the Punisher films due to the mediocre reviews for all three, but after some consideration, I decided to give the '04 film a go, for the heck of it. And I'll admit it was better than I expected.



The Punisher features former US soldier Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) seeing his family brutally murdered by the henchmen of Howard Saint (John Travolta), who blamed Castle for his son's death and wanting revenge. Enraged by the murders, Castle dedicated himself to bringing vengeance on those who murdered his loved ones, and ends up 'punishing' other criminals as well, thus marking his rise as 'The Punisher'.

One of the biggest problems with The Punisher is that it's too slow at times. Sure, there's plenty of violence - shootings, stabbings, boilings, etc. - but the violence isn't as graphic as it could be (especially for a character like The Punisher). The film seems to aim at more character development than character elimination - and the end result is almost the same problem that plagues films such as Superman Returns and Ang Lee's Hulk: focusing too much too much on character development and not enough action. The Punisher obviously has more violence than the aforementioned CBMs, however, just not as much as it could. In fact, if they removed the f-bombs and toned down the violence some, it probably could've squeezed in a PG-13 rating.

Another problem is that the film is sometimes cheesy. In Castle's fight scene with The Russian, the opera singing in the background...yeah, the music wasn't appropriate. Also, the whole ordeal of Quentin Glass (Will Patton) and Livia Saint (Laura Harring) having an affair wasn't at all necessary, IMO.

The acting in The Punisher is mostly solid. Thomas Jane (who many believe to be the best Frank Castle we've had yet) is seriously perfect in the title role, and I honestly wouldn't mind if they brought him back to reprise the role (whether it's in a TV show or Marvel Studios' pending reboot). John Travolta's good as Howard Saint, though not quite as menacing as he could. Samantha Mathis is pretty good as Maria Castle, it's a shame that the character was killed off early in the film (although it's inevitable). Rebecca Romijn, Ben Foster, and John Pinette are all good as Castle's roommates, while Kevin Nash is decent as The Russian in the short time he's in the film.

This is a minor complaint, but I couldn't help but notice that they didn't put a lot of money into this project. At a budget of merely $15.5 million, they could've put much, much more into the project. I know Punisher isn't really a well known character, but look at films like Thor ($140 mil), Blade ($48 mil), and Ghost Rider ($110 mil) - all centering on characters as unknown as The Punisher. So they could've put at least a bit more in the project. However, as I said, this is for the most part a minor complaint, and it doesn't affect the story much.

Regarding the actual script for The Punisher, it offers plenty of room for characters to breathe, for viewers to get to know them, etc. However, it feels like the overall storytelling is missing something - hard to place my finger on it, but the overall film just seems to be lacking. I don't know if it's the lack of more violence or having better production, but the final product feels like there can be much more added.

In the end, The Punisher isn't all that it could be, but it definitely isn't a bad attempt at bringing Frank Castle to life. It offers enough character development to care about the characters, and the stories displayed here are certainly worth telling. I can't wait to see what Marvel Studios does with the film, however. I think they're the ones to give us the Punisher film that we would all love and respect.

While not as heavy on violence as the comics' version, The Punisher succeeds in developing the main characters and is overall a decent take on Frank Castle's tragic story.

DISCLAIMER: ComicBookMovie.com is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
Related Headlines
PUNISHER MAX EXCLUSIVE Interview: Marvel Artist Leandro Fernandez Discusses Bringing Frank Castle To Life

PUNISHER MAX EXCLUSIVE Interview: Marvel Artist Leandro Fernandez Discusses Bringing Frank Castle To Life

We at Comic Book Movie recently nabbed an exclusive interview with esteemed artist Leandro Fernandez in support of Netflix's The Old Guard and we were sure to ask about his time on Punisher MAX. Read on!
PUNISHER Co-Creator Supports Black Lives Matter With Skulls for Justice Campaign

PUNISHER Co-Creator Supports Black Lives Matter With "Skulls for Justice" Campaign

Tired of the way that one of his character's symbol are being used, The Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway has launched a BLM fundraising campaign using Frank Castle's iconic emblem...
THE RAID Writer Pitched A PUNISHER Movie To Marvel Studios Featuring Nick Fury And Eminem

THE RAID Writer Pitched A PUNISHER Movie To Marvel Studios Featuring Nick Fury And Eminem

The Raid writer Adam G. Simon has revealed that after Frank Castle came to Daredevil on Netflix, he pitched an idea to Marvel Studios for a pretty crazy sounding Punisher movie. Read on for details...
THE PUNISHER Season 2: Every Easter Egg, Reference, And Cameo You May Have Missed - SPOILERS

THE PUNISHER Season 2: Every Easter Egg, Reference, And Cameo You May Have Missed - SPOILERS

Season two of The Punisher is now on Netflix and we're breaking down the show's biggest Easter Eggs, references, and unexpected cameos from the wider MCU. Hit the jump to check out the full breakdown...
Latest Headlines
THE MANDALORIAN Season 2 Trailer Contains Plenty Of New Footage, But No Sign Of Ahsoka Or Fett

THE MANDALORIAN Season 2 Trailer Contains Plenty Of New Footage, But No Sign Of Ahsoka Or Fett

A second trailer for The Mandalorian is now online, and while it does feature plenty of exciting new footage, fans are bound to be disappointed that we don't get a first look at any of the new characters.
CBM Poll: What Do You Think Of The New Headlines Layout?

CBM Poll: What Do You Think Of The New Headlines Layout?

You've no doubt noticed the recent main page layout update by now, so I'm looking for your feedback! Hit the jump to share your thoughts and let me know what you think in our latest Twitter poll!
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE Reboot Poster Released - The Face Of Madness Returns In 2021

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE Reboot Poster Released - The Face Of Madness Returns In 2021

The upcoming Fede Alvarez-produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot hit a snag when it lost directors Ryan and Andy Tohill, but David Blue Garcia took over, and the movie is now on track for a 2021 release.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: Hasbro Reveals Replica Of New Captain America Shield

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: Hasbro Reveals Replica Of New Captain America Shield

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier didn't premiere on Disney+ back in August as planned, but a replica shield based on the show is heading our way, and it should be a must-buy for any Captain America fan...
THE SANDMAN Netflix Adaptation Officially Enters Production; Cast Announcement Imminent

THE SANDMAN Netflix Adaptation Officially Enters Production; Cast Announcement Imminent

The Sandman writer Neil Gaiman has now confirmed that Netflix's upcoming adaptation of his acclaimed DC Vertigo comic series began shooting last week, while teasing an official cast announcement...
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER Star Chris Hemsworth Shares Hilarious Photo Of Taika Waititi At Script Meeting

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER Star Chris Hemsworth Shares Hilarious Photo Of Taika Waititi At Script Meeting

Thor: Love and Thunder star Chris Hemsworth has taken to social media to share a funny photo of director Taika Waititi catching from ZzZ's during a script meeting for the upcoming Marvel Studios film!