'The Punisher' movie image
I learn something new every day. Two days ago I found out that tetanus shots expire after ten years and this past week I found out that there are a whole lot of you out there who liked the Punisher movie (the 2004 version). We received some interesting responses to a very brief comment I made at the beginning of my Ed Norton/Hulk story. Some of you were particularly hostile, which I appreciate. I had to see if maybe I'd been wrong and the Punishermovie didn't indeed "suck" as I put it. So I did the grown-up thing and I actually re-watched The Punisher. And you know what? It doesn't suck ... it blows. It's terrible. Everything I hated about it the first time was just as bad, and a few things were worse on second viewing.

Why do I dislike it so much? Well let's look back to what I wrote in a 2004 review since it pretty much still stands as accurate. In this review I actually promise to never speak of this movie again, but my vow of silence has been broken. Then you can get to posting about how crap my taste in movies is. Enjoy.

I've got a bone to pick with the Punisher movie.If you don't want to read any "spoilers" or whatever, I suggest you come back later because I'm about to let loose.

Working in a comic store is a lot like being a bartender.You talk to a lot of your regulars and people off the street about what's going on and their opinions on things like sports, politics, foxy boxing, whatever.So when I'm behind the counter I end up talking to many of you about movies.I love this aspect of the job even when I become the poster child for Lucas Films and am forced to defend Attack Of The Clones, or one of you is explaining to me that Daredevil was a good film.But The Punisher was so bad, so hideous, that I won't even take the time to talk about it after this.I want to state here, once and for all, that this is one of the worst movies ever made and then let us never speak of it again.Before the movie came out I heard a lot of you wondering if it could be any worse than the first Punisher movie staring my man Dolph Lundgren.The answer is a resounding "Yes."At least the makers of the first movie knew they were making crap and didn't try to pretend otherwise.
The Punisher should not have been a hard movie to make.The premise is simple: man's family gets killed, man goes insane, man dresses up in costume, man kills everything that moves in a horribly graphic mission of revenge.That's it.The end.Thanks for coming.You don't have many special effects, and you don't have to spend the first hour waiting for the action to start while he learns how to use his super powers.Really, just put a freaking gun in the guy's hands and let the good times roll.They made like five Death Wish movies, three Die Hard movies and at least one Commando with this formula.Why chance it by doing anything else?
The Punisher does indeed start off well.Instead of just killing his wife and two kids, the producers of this film up the ante here by having Frank's entire family murdered at a reunion.I'm thinking, "Right on, this guy saw all the people that did this to him and now he's going to put on the costume and start the revenge!This is a total step in the right direction."They should have just rolled the credits right then and there, because everything that came next was about as pleasant as having an old man throw up on your neck.
What follows is an inconceivable mess of a movie.Frank comes back and finds out John Travolta was responsible for murdering his entire bloodline and then he goes home and drinks.Then he steals some money from Travolta without really killing anybody, reveals that he is still alive during an impromptu press conference for no reason, then goes home and drinks some more.There is no punishing going on whatsoever.This isn't a character study - it's an action movie - we freaking understand the motivation, let's move on.So then, instead of cutting his way through the underground to get to Travolta (which would have been set up with some ease via the introduction of the otherwise pointless Cuban drug cartel that works with Travolta's gang), the Punisher spends time building a car that he can fight crime in (and here I thought the A-Team movie wasn't out yet).He crashes the car just minutes later while fighting some sort of weird mariachi dude who knew where to find Frank after his big press conference.Ugh.Keep in mind that while all of this is going on, they managed to smear a bunch of characters from the tremendous Garth Ennis comics over this movie just to make things even more horrifying.
But the real fun comes when the "Punisher" decides to get even with Travolta's gang by turning them against each other by playing with their minds.This includes our supposedly super bad-ass vigilante carrying around a fake fire hydrant so that the villains get parking tickets.Holy crap!They should have called this garbage "The Instigator" or "The Manipulator" because I see ZERO punishing going down.Seriously, by the mid-way point of this cinema endurance test, the only one who's getting punished is you.I'm not going to even get into how silly the big explosion at the end of the movie is because I'm not sure if you're sitting down while you're reading this and I don't want you to hurt yourself.
So don't ever go see this movie if you can help it.It's not "funny" bad, it's just bad.Nothing in the film follows even the most basic sense of logic or coherent storytelling.The tone is stiff at best and I can see better violence on the streets in Georgetown on a Friday night.At a time when kick-ass vengeance movies like Kill Bill and Man On Fire are chalking up big box office with white-knuckle retribution, it's impossible to take anything about The Punisher seriously.What a darn shame.