The Punisher (6/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
If you’re going to
this movie to see John Travolta, you’re in for a disappointment. The
star of this movie is Thomas Jane (for the women reading this critique,
Jane is a Hunk’s Hunk), who plays Frank Castle, a government agent who
is involved in a sting that results in the death of the son of Howard
Saint (Travolta), a crime family boss, and his wife, Livia (Laura
Harring), who orders the death of Castle and his entire family.
is killed but Castle who spends the rest of the film in a vengeful quest
to kill Saint and everyone involved with the massacre of his family.
This is nothing more than a farce that uses violence as its motif, based
on a Stan Lee Marvel Comic Book hero. Unlike the deplorable Man on
Fire, which represents itself as a serious film in which the
graphic, cold-blooded violence brings “redemption” to the
protagonist, this is clearly cartoonish and is clearly played for fun,
even though lots of people die violently. The dialogue is tongue in
cheek, like when someone tells Castle to “go with God,” and Castle
grumbles, “God’s not involved in this.”
Castle gets shot and
stabbed and blown up, but this guy has recuperative powers that are,
well, beyond belief, because he always comes back and it doesn’t take
him long. One time he’s stabbed in the chest and beaten to a pulp.
After a few moments rest, he’s as good as new. What a guy! Nobody
could take this seriously. If you don’t, it’s enjoyable because no
matter what Castle goes through, you know he’s going to prevail.
presence adds nothing to this film (except, maybe, box office and the
scene showing him smoking that he insists on including in every film he
makes). He’s in so few scenes he probably shot them all within a week.
Consistent with his appearance last year in the lamentable Basic, Travolta
continues to display an inability to achieve a second dimension to his
craft, unless he puts on his dancing shoes. But I have to admit that he
does have a Presence.
big name here is Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, who is following up her lame
performance last year in Femme Fatale with this outing as a
woman, Joan, who becomes involved with Castle. Rebecca is stunningly
beautiful but she could use a few years’ training at the Actor’s
Studio or Stella Adler.
acting, you should pardon the expression, of Travolta and Romjin-Stamos,
there’s some sloppy editing. In one scene Saint is being dragged
behind a car and is on fire. In the next scene, an aerial overhead, we
see him still being dragged behind the car, but he’s no longer on
fire. Then in the next scene he’s on fire again.
I continue to find the blatant advertising promotions stuck in modern
films offensive. The audience has paid to see it and shouldn’t be
subjected to paid advertisements masquerading as props. This one
contains many plugs for a specific brand of bourbon that Castle drinks
Travolta and Romjin-Stamos and the inconsistent editing and the
commercial promotions, I enjoyed this film because I took it with a
grain of salt and viewed it as a comedy. If you’re looking to see a
serious thriller, this is not it.
April 24, 2004