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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
While I don't share the enthusiasm toward this film of the previous viewers, I don't think that it deserved the bad reviews in the press which In my opinion failed to take into account 2 very important factors:
1-This film was done on a relatively small budget in comparison to other action movies based on comics and the action sequences are still pretty spectacualar
2-The much maligned intro 45 mins was necassary for this film to work because the metamorphosis of a happy fbi man to the punisher had to be seen to justfiy the carnage which ensues
The reason I give this four stars is surprising really, while it is amusing to watch travolta fall so miserably in the end as the evil howard saint his empire doesn't seem grandiose enough, perhaps as much to do with the setting of TAMPA! instead of new york (which is the setting of the sequel if it ever gets made)as anything; but travolta doesnt perform well enough to even make us believe he is really tough and a match for the punisher. This means that the film deteriorates into satire at certain points which gioes against the dark theme of the film.
You musn't judge this movie on the same criteria as spiderman or batman movies for simple reasons, less money(as mentioned above) and a misleading title. This may sound strange but the title leads you to believe that from minute 1 to the nd of the film there will be punishment dished out, which is perhaps what die hard graphic novel fans would have wanted and this is exascerbated by several unecassary scenes pre transformation. Thus you don't get what you expect, a little realism. This film IS enjoyable but you musbn't compare it to other comic movies it must be viewed on its own merits and weaknesses. Perhaps it should be called Frank Castle is the PUNISHER
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2015
Apart from Blade and Ghost Rider this is the only Marvel property that is aimed more at adults and after a flop type 80's film with Dolph Lundgren The Punisher was crying out for a remake and we got a close to brilliant comic book action film that deserves more credit.
I slightly prefer the next Punisher film War Zone over this one but this is so very underrated with a great villain turn from the brilliant John Travolta and some of the best action sequences in recent cinematic history.

The story is fairly simple stuff - When FBI agent Frank Castle(Tom Jane)is blamed for the death of gangland boss Howard Saint's son Saint(John Travolta) orders the execution of Castle's entire family including his wife,son and parents.After finding out Saint was behind the massacre he plots his revenge which includes manipulating Saint into thinking his wife and right hand man are having an affair.With the help of three loners and after a meeting with two assassins Saint hired Castle sets out to find Saint and his other son at their nightclub headquarters before a rip roaring finale where Castle intends to get his revenge on the evil gangster who ruined his life.

As origin stories go this in a way can be similar to the likes of Bruce Wayne losing his parents or Superman seeing his parents and world blown to bits as its the same basic point behind his mission and that is getting revenge on those who took everything from him and even though there is no cape,mask and big city visuals and no special powers Frank does his vengeance with weapons and fists.
As villains go Howard Saint is no The Joker,Lex Luthor or Loki but John Travolta plays him with slimy menace and has no feelings for anyone but his family even if as the film goes on he shows he only really cares about himself.
The visuals are very dark and brooding similar to Batman(who i think Frank is a bit like in his quest for justice)and even though some people say there isn't much humor who cares this is not a story for comedy really so go and watch Guardians Of The Galaxy

The acting is where this film falls flat a bit where as Travolta is superb as Saint as i said before Tom Jane for me is bit like Keanu Reeves and just find he has one tone and reactions to most things that happen in this and any movie he is in(apart from Deep Blue Sea where he is was pretty good)and even though he does the action scenes really well the acting is quite bad i have to say and not up to the likes of Christian Bale,Robert Downey Jr and Hugh Jackman in other comic book flicks.The likes of Will Patton as Saint's right hand man Quentin Glass and Laura Harring as Saint's wife Livia are excellent with Patton owning any scene he is in and love his acting from other films hes been in.Rebecca Romijn and Ben Foster play their parts and its nice to see screen icon Roy Scheider in it briefly as Frank's doomed father even if Samantha Mathis is weak as Frank's wife Maria.

Where this flick comes alive is off course the action scenes with some awesome sequences that border on the outrageous at times.I just love the first real one the Castle family massacre where people go flying all over the place and buildings get blown to pieces before a gripping car chase takes place before Frank gets blown out to sea after the final massacre.Other notable moments include a vicious punch up in a apartment block between Castle and a Russian assassin(played by WWE star Kevin Nash)where they literally smash through every door and wall and is played quite comically.Quentin torturing one of Castle's loner friends is pretty nasty as he uses piercings to his advantage and its pretty strong even for a 18 rated.Other great sequences take place before a fabulous finale where Castle gets his revenge by pretty much blowing holes through every part of the nightclub building where Saint is hiding out before we see Saint's other son literally holding a grenade before Frank makes his father Saint beg for his life,as a finale it is a storming last sequence and shows off Jane's real talent as a action star more than a actor.

Let down only really by some acting and a bit too dark in places this has a excellent revenge plot,another top villain role for Travolta and a supreme set of action set pieces this is a really good comic book adaptation and needs more people to see it as its moaned about far too much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.5 out of 5

Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) has just completed his final mission with the FBI: posing as European arms dealer Otto Krieg to lure Bobby Saint—son of crime boss Howard Saint (John Travolta)—into a deal and eventually put him away. A shootout ensues and Bobby is killed. Frank retires and heads down to Florida on vacation with his family. When Howard Saint discovers Frank’s true identity and that “Krieg” didn’t die in the shootout, he sends a team of men to take out Frank’s family as payback for killing his son. Howard Saint’s men kill everyone including, they think, Frank. But Frank survives—barely—and soon gets well enough to punish Howard and his family slowly and painfully in an effort to balance the scales of justice.

I’m a huge fan of this movie despite there being a big divide amongst fans about it. Personally, it hit home to me on a lot of levels and this is why I love it. It’s a story of tragedy and pain, things going south in a big way, and one man trying to make things right the only way he knows how. What especially impressed me was the overall feel of the film and how that reflected Frank’s journey from family man to broken man to Punisher. In the beginning, everything is happy, cheery, colorful, and then once all are killed, suddenly the tone goes bleak, it’s all grays and browns and blacks, and everything becomes ultra serious. Even the humorous bits are done in a serious manner.

I also liked the glimpses into the lives of the others in Frank’s apartment building: Joan (Rebecca Romijn), Bumpo (John Pinette) and Spacker Dave (Ben Foster). To be honest, I don’t know how true they were to their comic book counterparts as I haven’t read them, but as portrayed on film, I liked them as characters and had a soft spot for each of them as I saw bits and pieces of others I once knew inside them.

Back to Frank, Thomas Jane played it in spades. He was depressed, brooding, angry, idealistic, righteous and distraught all at the same time. He brought each of these elements to the fore whenever they were best called upon and went beyond just a gun-wielding vigilante. He would’ve made an excellent Batman should he have ever been offered the role.

When I saw him as the Punisher again in the fan film, Dirty Laundry, I cheered him on the whole way through and felt like I was back at home in Frank Castle’s life, walking with him as he dealt with the pain of losing everyone he’d ever loved while once again rising to the call of duty because he was needed.

Frank’s inspiring speech in The Punisher about sometimes the law being inadequate gets every fanboy pumped up and cheering, and while I find it hard to believe Frank’s motive is only punishment and not vengeance, it’s still a memorable moment in the film.

This flick is one of my favorites and is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I'm not really into very violent films, especially not when some of the violence is quite sadistic and you know that the good guys are going to be doing much of the suffering. But this very dark film about the battle between a corrupt and powerful businessman (John Travolta) and an ex-cop (Tom Jane) is one of the most skillfully crafted films I have ever seen. Despite the high body count, very little of the violence in this film is mindless. I couldn't exactly say that I enjoyed it, but I did find it very powerful.

In particular, this film is a lot more sophisticated than the slogan on the front of the box ("There is no justice, there is only revenge") might make it appear.

Special Agent Frank Castle (Jane) is a devoted family man, admired and respected by his colleagues, who is about to retire from the front line of FBI covert operations to take up a more senior position.

Unfortunately, Frank's last covert mission, while successful in the sense that the criminals are brought to justice, has catastrophic repercussions because, through no fault of Frank Castle's, inexperienced gangster Bobby Saint (James Carpinello) panics and makes a stupid attempt to resist arrest.

Most people would see what happens to him as entirely his own fault, but the parents of the young man concerned do not view things quite that way: and his father Howard Saint (Travolta) is the most powerful crimelord in the region. When Howard Saint finds out who had been behind the covert operation, he plans to order Frank Castle killed. This is not enough for Saint's wife Livia (Laura Harring), who persuades him to also order the extermination of Frank's entire family - wife, child, parents, uncles, cousins, everyone - at a family reunion.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the marketing of the film often gives away rather too much of what happens when Saint's men, led by his other son, (Bobby's identical twin John, also played by Carpinello) come after the Castle family. In some ways this is the most exciting part of the film, particularly when Frank and his father attempt to hold off the assassins while his wife Maria (Samantha Mathis) makes a desperate attempt to escape with their young son. The chase scene which results has some of the most spectacular stunts ever seen in a film: they are mostly real rather than computer generated, and were genuinely dangerous to make (according to the Sunday Times, the blades of the outboard motor of a boat missed one stuntman by inches). I presume this would be even more powerful to watch if you don't know whether they will escape, so I'm not going to tell you whether any other members of the Castle family survive the attack.

But obviously, you would have no material for the rest of the film unless Frank himself survives: having been left for dead, he recovers from wounds which John Saint had assumed would be fatal and, learning that Howard Saint has bribed the authorities to close the investigation into the attack, Castle turns vigilante and seeks revenge himself.

Castle is willing to meet violence with violence, and the end result to those against whom he is seeking vengeance is usually worse than if he had killed them directly himself, but he mostly uses his brains to trick the bad guys into going after each other.

Travolta and Jane are both brilliant, as are most of the rest of the cast. Apart from the actors I have already mentioned, memorable performances come from Roy Scheider as Frank Castle's father and Rebecca Romijn as a girl called Joan who lives in the old tenement building where Castle takes refuge while planning revenge on Howard Saint.

The tone of the film is very grim and dark, and not everyone will enjoy it. But it is very cleverly put together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2007
i thought of this film whilst writing a review for 'Ghost rider' so here i am reviewing it....

first of all I'd like to point out that i think Tom Jane looks like Highlanders Christopher Lambert. does anyone agree?

OK the review...
i absolutely loved this film! it starts off really dark and serious with the death's of his family, (which impressed me, I'm not a freak but hate it when movies 'fluff' things up, in this even the kid gets it!) i like it when a film get my emotions reeling, (it means that we care about the character's on some level) for example, Travolta's wife, what a b****!, wanted to kill her myself! but Travolta as the overweight bad guy who let's his wifey tell him what to do? nah, not very Gangsta!

I absolutely loved the character Tom Jane played, the way in which he seek-ed out revenge was awesome! no mercy, no weakness, he just finished em all off one by one! that's exactly what I'd want my man to do if me and my kid were killed! he was just so slick and cool all the way, yeah it might be a little unrealistic in parts, but isn't that what movies are for?
i like also how he went out of his way to help his neighbours, very noble, and cool fight scenes too!

very cool film! well worth a watch! it has cool fights, a good revenge story, slick character, what else do you need for a good ol kick em up/smash em up film? only weak point is Travolta, good actor but like other reviewers have said, not convincing enough as the bad guy, i think i felt sorry for him in the end as i couldn't see him for a total baddie!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2005
The Punisher is not a bad movie. I had the distinct impression from the film that it tried to be faithful to the original comic, and having read the reviews of others, I see that this was indeed the case...but here perhaps lies the problem; someone somewhere is to blame for the lack of pace in the movie (certainly not the actors, as Tom Jane is great, Travolta's 'underplayed' baddy works fine, and there is a host of cameos who all play their parts well).
I think it comes down to either the final edit or the screenplay, but throughout The Punisher, we seem to revisit various scenes (his fortified room, the Saints' stronghold, etc...), with no particular plot progression or reason, to the effect that it seems the Punisher was filmed as a disjointed series of mini stories. An example of this is in his fortified room, where we see him 'kit-up' several times in the movie...and that's sort of it really...almost as if it were an extended version of the Schumacher Batman movie openings, but sliced up and interspersed throughout the film.
Hey, don't get me wrong, I love a good cheesey Hero flick (i'll admit to having the Phantom on DVD), but I also love a film that has been well crafted. The Crow was a film that was driven by the characters sorrow and stylistic cinematography, X-Men, by the wealth of characters, Special FX and a tight plot, Blade, by the action and intensity of Snipes and excellent support from Kristofferson, even Daredevil had a certain pace to it...but unfortunately The Punisher movie follows it's own path and seems to get a little lost, at times straying to violence (tame, as it is in comparison to a truly violent hero movie like RoboCop), and other times to dry humour (but not to the comedic levels of Spiderman). So to sum up, if you love super hero movies you'll like it, if you like action movies you'll yawn, and if you like tongue-in-cheek movies you'll groan (not in a good way either).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2005
Running Time: 123mins
Starring:-
Tom Jane as Frank Castle AKA The Punisher
John Travolta as Howard Saint
Based on the Comic from Marvel
No Super-Powers? No Hellish Creatures?? No Spandex?!?! Don't let the absence of these key ingredients fool you- this is the latest comic book adaptation. Those whom are aware of The Punisher understand why these traits are missing- it's because he's a comic book hero set in the 'real world'.
Our protagonist here is Frank Castle, a soon-to-be-retired member of the US Special Forces, a war-forged crime deterrent. Whilst doing his job, a criminal gets killed- not at the hands of Frank Castle (probably the only one in history). However the deceased criminals father happens to be a power crazed crime-lord who wants revenge for his Son's untimely death, naturally. Frank, and his family, fall victim to the subsequent act of bloody revenge. All are killed as a result. All except Frank Castle, now he intends to Punish those who killed the innocent...the plot unravels...
In 1989, the original Punisher film was released- it was awful. And it had Dolph Lundgren in the Starring role. This modern offering differs vastly and The Punisher is a worthy watch. There's plenty of guns, stabbings, death, blood, explosions and a few one-liners that are reminiscent of pure 80s action...
It is a violent film, this is because the FICTIONAL character works in a violent profession, undergoes a violent experience and then deals out violent punishment to boot. Tom Jane convinces as the Punisher, and Travolta looks the part of the Crime Boss. Also, Roy Schneider has a bit part to play- though it's not for very long.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2005
I don't understand some reviewers (most in fact). They go ahead and review a movie based on a character from another medium, and then don't do their background research! Anyone who has read the Marvel Knights run of The Punisher (beginning with the "Welcome Back Frank" storyline) by Garth Ennis, would know that this movie is a fantastic representation of the comic books. It's all there: The low key action (This isn't "Commando" people), offbeat humour and strange characters are all present and correct. (For those who don't know; Joan, Mr Bumpo and Spacker Dave are all characters who appear regularly in the MK Punisher run) Yes the story is changed ever so slightly, but then again, name a comic book movie that hasn't taken some artistic licence with the source material. The Punisher, has only been close to a full-blown action fest back during the seventies and eighties comics. The current run is far more subtle and inventive - wait until you see what he does with the anti-personel mine near the end of the movie! As for why Howard Saint goes after Castle? He was the guy who set his son up, and if he hadn't done that the SWAT team wouldn't have turn up and shot Saint's son! Simple as that. Also, about the car...just because Frank makes those modifications, it doesn't mean that the car needs a big part - that adds realism. Not everything always goes according to plan in reality... I say, watch and enjoy a pretty accurate translation from comic book to big screen! Garth Ennis approves! p.s the fight scene with The Russian is sooooo close to the fight in "Welcome Back Frank" that I kept trying to hide the big grin covering my face lol!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2005
I had read bad reviews of this film in magazines and missed it at the cinema as they showed it for about a week, then it disappeared. I bought it though as I enjoy action movies and still think John Travolta was cool enough in pulp fiction, swordfish and face off, to warrant the risk of seeing play the bad guy. Well not expecting much I was blown away by how awesome this film was. The action is excellent and the story line although cliched bad guy kills the family is amazingly fresh and impacting. A fight scene between the punisher and a huge russian easily beats the Kill Bill vol.2 cat fight of the bride and elle driver. (I mean how could they not draw swords in a caravan, anyone with can pull a scabbard and draw at the same time). ALthough primarily an action film a streak of dark humour runs through from start to finish that keeps it interesting and doesnt distance you form a character who is quite detached from society.
Top marks for a film that doesnt believe that violence is best left to the imagination.
The deleted scenes are not up to much and were left out for good reason, the other featurettes arent bad but you'd get more pleasure sticking the flim on again.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2005
One of marvels darkest characters if portrayed brilliantly in this gritty-action movie.
A lot has been changed from the original punisher storys. His family, the way they are killed etc is very different. Also, i feel fans will argue that the film ignores a lot of the punishers psychotic nature and makes him seem a lot nicer person than he was portrayed in the comics.
However, what they have done with the character i feel is excellent. The film looks and feels great, but it is not perfect. The russian is good but not as good as he was in the comic. Heck is also good but the time he is in it is waaaaaay too short. John t is excellent in the film and plays howard saint very well.
It seems like they have crammed a lot into one film, so a lot of the elements are lost, personally, i think they should have split it all up a bit, as the time with heck and the russian are much too short lived.
The punisher is deffinatelly one of the best and darkest of the marvel characters, and whether you are a fan or not, i suggest you give this a try.
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