Movie Review: Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Having mildly enjoyed The Punisher restart four years ago (try and forget the original Dolph Lundgren debacle), I was interested to see how Hollywood was going to grow the character of Frank Castle further in Punisher: War Zone. Inexplicably, the franchise has regressed into a form that defies conventional words.

Okay, maybe there is a description for it: a super gore entrenched joke seems to sum it up rather nicely — certainly not the thriller/drama it has the audacity to call itself.

The only dramatic piece Punisher: War Zone offers up is the forlorn look from the film’s hero, Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher (Ray Stevenson) as he tries to come to grips with the death of his family and with his accidental killing of an undercover FBI agent. Everyone else it seems, plays their roles like ridiculous caricatures. Take for example the role of criminal mastermind and The Punisher’s nemesis, Billy Russoti, a.k.a. Jigsaw (Dominic West). He basically embraces the role as a ramped up parody of Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face from Batman Forever. Same goes for Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison). The name alone should be enough to demonstrate the kind of character he is and how he is enacted. Having these comical characters on their own isn’t such a bad thing but when they’re superimposed with the more serious roles, the film loses its identity and becomes confusing to the viewer who is trying to determine what to make of it all.

What the movie does revel in, is the mountains of glorified brutal violence and gore. I don’t believe there is a scene that lasts longer than 30 seconds that doesn’t have someone getting shot or stabbed or eviscerated or having their neck snapped. My personal favorite was when some random perp’s face was caved in with a wicked punch from The Punisher. What I found as a nice add on to it all was the “squish” and “splat” sounds that accompanied each of these scenes — a most delightful treat for the ears!

But of course, I’m joking. Punisher: War Zone is a schizophrenic mess. Had there been some semblance of direction — any direction — it may not have been so bad. Any accolades Lexi Alexander got for her past body of directorial work has been erased — completely. Hell, I think any good work done by anyone who even walked by the set of this movie has lost any good will that they’ve amassed.

As a final thought, towards the end of the film, The Punisher steadfastly states, “This is just the beginning.” In my gut, I know he’s telling the truth — another installment is being concocted as we speak. But maybe, just maybe, if enough people pray against this reality, the napkin the script is being written on will burst into flames. Start the prayer sessions now. Please.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
1 Star Rating: Stay Away


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Punisher: War Zone (2008)' have 6 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 29, 2009 @ 9:16 am james

    I didnt think that after the first movie, they would make another one, the first one already bored the hell out of me

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 25, 2009 @ 1:35 am cuwiell

    if I see the cover, it must be very cruel

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 6, 2009 @ 6:53 pm Bugs

    You wanted “drama”???
    Punisher is not for you, General. Go take another walk on the beach and flatter yourself that you actually ENJOY “Citizen Kane”, why don’t you.
    “What the movie does revel in, is the mountains of glorified brutal violence and gore. I don’t believe there is a scene that lasts longer than 30 seconds that doesn’t have someone getting shot or stabbed or eviscerated or having their neck snapped.”
    What??? In a PUNISHER movie? That’s just CRAZY.
    There should be more “drama” in a Punisher movie, fersure…right?

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 6, 2009 @ 9:41 pm General Disdain

    @ Bugs,

    The film, as I recall, was marketed as a movie that was more than a cartoony shoot ’em up.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 7, 2009 @ 7:49 pm Bugs

    And if it had been marketed as a romantic comedy, GD, would you have felt short-changed? This is the Punisher, ferpetessakes!
    The comic book IS, by definition, a cartoony shoot-em-up, even if grief, pain, torture, and mass death is nothing to smile. The pleasure in reading the comics comes from the brutal retribution inflicted on LOTS of criminals. In FACT, I’d wager that 99.9% of Castle-followers are straight-laced, law-abiding citizens. It pisses US off that criminals are allowed to “get away with it.”
    Unrelenting, psychotic retribution.
    I’m not about to defend this movie as brilliant cinema, and certainly not the perfect Punisher movie.
    But however marketed, this B-movie SHLOK is the CLOSEST thing we’ve had.
    Story, fight-choreography and bad guys-wise: Dolph’s.
    “Cinema”-wise: Gale Ann Hurd’s husband’s.
    True Frank Castle and brutal retribution-wise: War Zone. By a mile.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 10, 2009 @ 10:44 am General Disdain

    It is B-movie shlok but it tries to not be B-movie shlok. That, Bugs, is where the problem arises. Either embrace the ridiculous or don’t – you can’t have it both ways.

    See Crank High Voltage for how it should have been done.

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