Ray Stevenson (stern), Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty), Doug Hutchison (cannibal)
What’s it about?
The Punisher (Stevenson) is Frank Castle, an ex-Special Services officer turned trouble-making vigilante who is constantly attempting to avenge his family’s murder. In this sequel to 2004’s The Punisher, he’s got beef with Billy Russoti (West) aka Jigsaw, a mafia villain who had his face mutilated in an altercation with Castle and a glass-crushing machine. They want each other dead. The Punisher gets some big guns on his side. Jigsaw gets some smaller guns, but breaks his psycho brother – Loony Bin Jim (Hutchison) – out of incarceration to assist him.
What’s good about it?
The action is relentless, the explosions are enormous, the guns are many and the one-liners are pretty special. Dumb quips like “somebody has to punish the corrupt” and “sometimes I’d like to get my hands on God” are combined with imaginative insults aimed at the police (“Krispy Kreme motherfuckers”) to lighten the mood. And it’s fun. Big, stupid, mindless fun. If you dig that, you’ll dig this.
What’s bad about it?
If you’re thinking it all sounds a bit Batman, you’d be right. The Punisher was dreamed up by Marvel Comics as their version of DC Comics’ Batman, and the two anti-heroes both wreak havoc in the name of justice. Crucial differences include The Punisher’s penchant for mass-murder, as opposed to Batman’s attempts to not kill. And The Punisher lives in isolated squalor under the New York Metro rather than being a billionaire playboy. But, whatever, the Batman films are better because as entertaining as Punisher: War Zone is, there’s no real depth, the plot is obvious and it’s a wee bit charmless.
We can definitely think of worse ways to spend 90 minutes. But we can think of better ways too.