Andy's Review: Punisher: War Zone - The Real Punisher
by Andy Adair
December 8, 2008
I wanted to voice my opinion on this today, because I felt Kevin's review didn't really do the film justice. Let me start off by saying this: Punisher: War Zone is a completely different movie than Thomas Jane's Punisher from 2004. While I did enjoy that film very much, and while Jane did the best he could with the character, I was never sold on him actually being the Punisher. He looked nothing like him, and the movie wasn't as gritty as many comic book fans are typically used to seeing with the character. Enter December 5th, 2008 and a reboot of the franchise just like Louis Leterrier did with the Hulk earlier this year. So how did this Punisher compare to the ones of past? I believe it was a much better film than both.
War Zone goes exactly where I wanted a Punisher movie to go. It's gritty and violent and at times it feels like it jumped straight off the page of the Punisher MAX comic. Ray Stevenson is the Punisher. He looks almost exactly how every comic book reader would envision him on screen. While the story wasn't award worthy and at times was campy (okay, at times it was very campy), I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
By now most of you know what the story is about. The Punisher (Stevenson) begins the film by "punishing" a New York mob boss along with his family and friends at their mob mansion. As the Punisher kills anyone and everyone there, he receives a tip that some of the men have escaped. The Punisher of course follows and cleans up the rest of the mess, or so he thinks. One of the mob leaders by the name of Billy Russoti (played by Dominic West of "The Wire" and 300) becomes horribly disfigured by the Punisher's antics, and swears revenge on the Punisher and all that stand in his way. He calls himself Jigsaw and with the help of his demented brother "Loony Bin Jim" they become a menace to the people of New York City.
As I said before, the story here is not a phenomenal story. It is very predictable and it's definitely something we've all seen before. Many critics would immediately write off this movie at this point. George Roush over at Latino Review recently said this: "Movies are story driven works of art. If the story is shit, the film is shit." There is no way that, as a writer and a moviegoer, I can agree with that statement. I can understand and respect what he is saying, and agree that movies are a work of art, but to say that the value of each and every film rides on whether or not the story is well done, is a bit extreme. War Zone's story is not very well done, but it is still a very likeable movie. I was very entertained from start to finish.
Another aspect of War Zone that can't be overlooked is the violence. I felt confident that no matter how good (or bad) I thought War Zone was in the end, director Lexi Alexander would do a good job with the violence. I absolutely love Green Street Hooligans and what she did in that film felt very real. While at times things got over the top in War Zone, I still enjoyed every last blood-splattering kill. And the answer is yes, the Punisher can punch a hole in a man's head. I hope you were asking that question!
All in all, War Zone was good for what is was. If you go in expecting anything like The Dark Knight or Iron Man, you will be thoroughly disappointed. However, if you walk into the theater to see a fierce and graphic look at the Punisher, than you should enjoy every minute of this. Hardcore comic enthusiasts shouldn't be disappointed either, as there are plenty of lines that come right from the comics. From exploding heads to point blank executions, Punisher: War Zone was a decent film with a decent story, and an excess of violent eye candy. I was never bored, and I know that with the right expectations, you won't be either.