When an undercover operation results in the death of his son, crime lord Howard Saint (JohnTravolta, recycling his Swordfish shtick) orders the wipe-out of the entire family of FBIagent Frank Castle. This duly occurs, and Castle (Thomas Jane, sounding just like HughJackman) is left for dead. He survives, however, and returns to Tampa as the Punisher, andengages in an elaborate vendetta against Saint.
Unlike the disastrous Dolph Lundgren Punisher, this …ilm at least has our hero in theproper costume. The tone is peculiar, blending extreme violence (by superhero movie standards)and an unrelievedly grim and sullen hero with bizarre comic relief and OTT action scenes. Theresult is that a number of scenes that should be playing straight come across as ridiculous. Thereasons for this tone are made clear in the excellent commentary, and though I don’t think theattempt at transferring the tone of the comic was successful (it may be that this particular form ofthe grotesque is something that can ONLY work in comic book form), I will give credit to thefilmmakers for having seriously tried something, and for respecting the comic book, even if theresult is basically just another vigilante movie.
The sound is a very nice match with the film’s content: VERY VERY LOUD. The bass linesare excellent, the explosions and gunshots are deafening, and the environmental creation isconstant. The dialogue never distorts. All in all, as clean and explosive as you could possiblywant.
There is a little bit of grain visible in the film, but I half-suspect this is deliberate, and partof an attempt at a pseudo-noir feel. The colours, at any rate, are excellent, with fine contrasts andflesh tones, and perfectly deep blacks. There are no edge enhancement halos, and the image isvery sharp.
Director Jonathan Hensleigh’s commentary is very intelligent and informative, laying outexactly what he was trying to do, and getting into scene-specific behind-the-scenes detail. Thefour featurettes are also fine examples of their kind, being much less annoyingly promotionalthan the usual. “Keepin’ It Real” takes us behind the scenes during the stunt shoots. “WarJournal” is an on-set making-of. “Army of One” traces the Punisher’s evolution in the comicbooks from his origin to the present day. “Drawing Blood Bradstreet Style” is about thecelebrated cover artist’s involvement with the movie’s publicity. There are two deleted sceneswith commentary, the “Step Up” music video by Drowning Pool, and the trailer for the Punishervideo game. The menu is fully animated and scored.
As Marvel adaptations go, this is definitely no Spider-Man 2. But at least it isn’tDaredevil either, if only because Ben Affleck is nowhere to be seen.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- “Keepin’ It Real: The Punisher Stunts”
- “War Journal: On Set of The Punisher”
- “Army of One: The Origins of the Punisher”
- “Drawing Blood Bradstreet Style” Featurette
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- “Step Up” Music Video by Drowning Pool
- Punisher Game Trailer