Monday, 29 July 2013

The Punisher (2004)

























First reboot for the franchise since the underrated Lundgren flick. Admittedly Lundgren had the physique for the role but wasn't a naturally dark haired man, so this time they chose...a naturally blonde haired guy??

The plot was based around a few Punisher story lines from the comic book world and is an origins plot line. So we start off by seeing Castle as a regular guy and top undercover cop, we get all the family life guff and this does actually take up quite a bit of the film early on. At one point it does get a bit dull and I started to yearn for some action. The plot is also more of the Punisher fighting one group of bad guys, he's not a vigilante killing lots of bad guys, he fighting one particular group. At first I didn't like that but the finale clears it up so.

When the action does hit so do the problems. First off the 'killing' of Castle, how the hell did the bad guys mess that up?! Normally when someone is gonna get whacked they are shot in the head point blank, simple, but in this film its just stupid. The bad guys have Castle but shoot him in the chest?? not even in the heart but the other side! eh? surely you'd shoot him in the head?? They then pour gasoline over everything accept Castle and set it alight, so everything burns accept Castle, oh and then it all blows up. Castle then manages to survive for what seems like quite a long time before getting picked up.

So he's shot point blank in the chest, survives a gasoline explosion point blank range and still lives on...after the bad guys fail to shoot him in the head and fail to burn him up. So that whole sequence fails in two ways then.

This film has various issues that didn't sit well with me. Being set in Florida for one thing, the film seems quite bright and sunny all the time because of the location. It doesn't feel right for a dark character like this, its like shoving Batman in Hawaii, the action may still rock but the atmosphere just isn't right. Then there's the issue of Jane as the Punisher, again like Dolph he has the physique but he's blonde!! and all the time I'm thinking his hair looks dyed...because it was obviously. Its a minor quibble I guess but just like Dolph he hasn't got the stubble line either because he's fair haired, is it really that hard to find an actual dark haired man for this role??

So if you put the smaller issues aside what next? well nothing really happens in this. He gets killed off, then announces to the world he's actually not dead which ruins the whole point if you ask me, and then nothing happens! We don't get any real revenge killing until the finale. He battles two assassins, one is a complete copy from the Rodriguez film 'Desperado' and the other kinda looks like a cross between The Sandman and Zangief out of Street Fighter II and is dressed like a cartoon character. Admittedly the fight against the enormous Russian was quite good but that was it.

There are too many sappy moments in here too, attempts at some humour which don't really fit and the characters who live with Castle are terrible. The bad guys again aren't really very memorable either, Travolta is kinda miscast as the main villain and merely comes across as his character from 'Swordfish' (and a few others). The only other bad guy of note would be Will Patton as Travolta's main sidekick, interesting touch making him homosexual but wasn't explored enough, fresh though. On the whole the bad guys were definitely bad enough but just totally bland and generic, unlike the 89 version this film didn't have the explosive fun action to get around that.

The slaying of Saint at the end was laughable, not only is there no guarantee he was actually killed (seeing as Castle managed to survive his ordeal), but the iconic skull motive left by all the burning wreckage was just plain dumb (and a 'Crow' rip off). What was the point of it?? no one would ever see it unless in a helicopter! I'm pretty sure it would be impossible to actually do on the ground and take ages to arrange, when did he get the time??!! so stupid.

The film finally comes to life in the finale as Castle finally takes down all the bad guys, the sequence is what you're waiting for the whole time. Had more of this happened throughout the film it may have been much better, but in general there are many bad decisions here which I just don't understand how they were agreed on.

4.5/10