> Volume 6 > Number 16


Jonathan Hensleigh

Thomas Jane
John Travolta
James Carpinello
Laura Harring
Will Patton
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos

Release: 16 Apr. 04

The Punisher


The Punisher is one of the most miserable filmgoing experiences of the year. Built around much sound and fury, this is a futile but aggressive assault on the senses. Bombastic and sentimental in the same beat, it portrays everything that can go wrong with a comic book-inspired film, reminding the audience what luck we've had with Spider-Man and X-Men.

This, of course, isnít the first misfire from the newly awakened filmmaking side of Marvel, but it is the worst, making The Hulk and Daredevil look positively classical in their treatment of deep themes and heavy emotions. The Punisher comics likely have the same lofty intentions as most Marvel fare, but under the direction of Armageddon screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh, the import is lost. Instead, the brooding of a man whoís lost everything he loves because he did the right thing becomes less about questioning oneís self and more about violently killing off the people responsible.

Sure, this isnít that different from the underlying premise of the Kill Bill films, but those donít take themselves so deadly serious. While Quentin Tarantino is daring the audience to join him on his magical murderous tour, Hensleigh only asks for tears of sympathetic pain when the music reaches a crescendo while the soon-to-be superhero (Jane) cradles his dead family members following the Great Caribbean Massacre of 2004. When he kills someone in middle of a lot of fiery cars and the camera take a birdís eye view to show the flames create The Punisher's skull emblem, itís impossible to not feel entirely disgusted by this film and its makerís insistence that the audience be dumb enough to care. When I say that I expect more than just overblown pomp and circumstance in action films, I can only speak for film connoisseurs, but I doubt the comic book fans feel any different

©2004, David Perry,, 16 April 2004