Punisher: Warzone (2008)
Plot: For five years, ex-cop Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) has been eliminating mafia families as the vigilante ‘Punisher.’ After horribly disfiguring crime boss Billy the Beaut (Dominic West), Billy takes on the moniker ‘Jigsaw’ and vows revenge against the Punisher and the family of an ex-FBI agent (Romano Orzari) who Castle accidentally killed in the field.
This is a putrid movie, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a hell of a lot of fun. The first time Punisher shows up sets the tone perfectly. Director Lexi Alexander turns this into a completely ridiculous, gory, and cartoonish romp. The Punisher even has his own basement of files of everyone he’s killed. It’s insane, like walking through the Department of Mysteries with all the prophecies hanging on the shelves in Harry Potter. That’s how many people this guy has killed. The acting is campy as hell, and the bad guys are Italian Mafia stereotypes galore. At one point there are about 20 of them standing in the same room and I really thought they were all about to break out with ‘Forget about it’ at the same time. And the bad guys really do shine in this movie. They are absolutely hysterical. Dominic West and Doug Hutchison play brothers Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim respectively and have a priceless chemistry together. First of all, when you have a bad guy named Loony Bin Jim, you know you are in for something special. And Loony Bin Jim is the highlight of the movie. He shoots the heads off of a little girl’s doll collection! Now that’s villainous. We also get this other kooky gang of criminals who do all these crazy flips and are accurately described as ‘on a constant meth high.’ That’s pretty funny. As insane and bloody as the action is, and how funny the villains are, what really brings this down is Ray Stevenson who plays the Punisher. He’s the only guy here playing it straight. Everyone else is camping it up, but he comes in as a serious Punisher in a non-serious Punisher movie. What the hell! When he’s not shooting things, it’s a rough performance. And because the film is so dumb, when they try to have those serious and slow moments, it’s that much worse. This needed to have one tone and one tone only. Let me stress that this is not a good movie. But if you want a few laughs and Mortal Kombat type action, throw this in the DVD player by all means.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Dough Hutchison as Loony Bin Jim
-His name is Loony Bin Jim, and the performance does not disappoint the name sake. He’s completely bonkers. I promise you will at least chuckle every time he speaks. The voice is funny as hell as he’s infused with unbelievable one-liners.
Worst Performance: Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle/the Punisher
-He plays it too straight in a world where everyone else isn’t.
Best Line: “You look great.” –Billy
“The hell I do. I shit in a bag, for Christ sake.” –Old Gaetano Cesare
“Hey, it saves you a trip to the can, right?” –Billy
-I think the exchange of dialogue speaks for itself.
Worst Line: “Come on Frank, I’ll buy you a drink.” –Martin Soap
-He casually says this right after a huge emotional gun fight, the death of a best friend, and all this other crap. ‘Yea, come on, let’s go get a drink. No big deal.’
-The fight between Punisher and Loony Bin Jim does not disappoint. It’s just a couple of psycho paths going at it, and some great one-liners from good ole Loony Bin.
-At one point the Punisher just sticks a pencil up his nose and then pulls it back out…did I miss something?
-The first Punisher scene is total insanity, holy shit. He’s snapping necks, slicing people’s heads off, swinging upside down on chandeliers. It sets the tone perfectly.
-One of the villain scenes goes a little too far. Jigsaw is recruiting his army as he makes a big speech literally in front of a digital image of the American flag as the patriotic music blasts in the background…come on, really?
-One of the acrobatic meth guys is flipping in the air and is suddenly taken out by a rocket…I can’t do this scene justice.
Bad Ass Moment:
-The Punisher punches a guy’s face and it explodes…the end.