I'm a little bit perplexed. I thought The Punisher was some kind of superhero and I watched this entire movie waiting for him to display some kind of super powers only to discover that The Punisher, aka Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), is nothing more than an updated version of Charles Bronson from "Death Wish". His only apparent gift is that he's hard to kill. Given trends in today's movies, being hard to kill is about as original as being a straight-laced cop and getting a wacko for a partner.
Castle becomes The Punisher after his entire family is slaughtered by Howard Saint's (John Travolta) goons, led by Quentin Glass (Will Patton). This slaughter is retribution for the death of one of Saint's kids in an arms deal gone bad in which Castle was an undercover agent. It's actually Saint's wife, Livia (Laura Harring), who demands that Castle's entire family be offed. Unlike many other marriages in which one spouse is evil, the Saints are in complete agreement on how they should treat people.
"The Punisher" takes forever setting up the motivation for Castle to go after Saint. It's not like we need all this back story. I pretty much get it when the character explains that his entire family and most of his extended family were gunned down with machine guns. I don't really need thirty minutes of visuals.
After Castle's family gets mowed down, "The Punisher" gets really weird. Castle moves into a building and has Bumpo (John Pinette), Dave (Ben Foster), and Joan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) for neighbors. Director Jonathan Hensleigh could have made his movie less obvious had he just hung signs from the necks of Bumpo and Dave that read "comic relief". As for Joan, we don't have the slightest clue what she's doing in the building, other than perhaps hiding from abusive boyfriends or John Stamos.
The most ridiculous part of the movie has to do with how Castle takes his revenge. He makes it look like Glass and Livia are having an affair. Now, that would be reasonable except that Glass and Howard have been friends for twenty plus years but apparently Howard has no idea that Quentin is gay. His name is Quentin for Christ's sake! How the hell could you not know he was gay? Castle seemed to smell the homosexuality on Quentin right away because he followed the guy around for about five minutes with a camera and sure enough, there was Quentin kissing the gardener. With that kind of discretion, I guess it's no wonder Howard never noticed.
I guess if punishment was the goal of "The Punisher", it certainly succeeded.
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