Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh
Big disappointment – I used to read Punisher comics years ago so I looked forward to this production. The most fundamental mistake they made was to transform the Punisher (aka Frank Castle played by Thomas Jane) from a vigilante helping a community plagued with crime to a man bent on revenge. In the comic, the set-up was that the dysfunctional legal system caused his neighborhood to suffer so, after losing his family to violent crime (which was in the movie), he dedicates himself to solving those problems using his commando skills. I heard that the people at Marvel Comics had a hand in this production but, from my perspective, their Punisher title was diminished by this movie. The source material is strong enough that, in spite of this disappointment, I hope that the powers that be will see the value in producing another Punisher and getting it right. Here is what I would change: (a) make him a street-level crime fighter, down and dirty, driving around in his van (why they left that out I don’t know – maybe they thought a vintage GTO is cooler than a van loaded with military gear), and mixing it up with the street thugs that the judicial system coddles; (b) show some realistic court room scenes (you could draw on real-life cases) that illustrate why he is frustrated; (c) add some dark humor. What they got right and shouldn’t change in the next Punisher: (a) keep Thomas Jane and have him continue to play the character as quiet, anti-social, and troubled; (b) the cinematography and action choreography were well done. A key element is missing from this movie – the dynamic tradeoff between the civil liberties and community safety – that made the comic appealing by making the Punisher a character of questionable morality. The key is to engage the viewer in thinking about the trade-off society faces – this should have been a thought-provoking film. In spite of that serious flaw, the movie is a fairly well executed action film in terms of production values.
Images are copyright Lions Gate Films
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