Archive for December, 2008

09 Dec 2008

Punisher: War Zone

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As the third major action flick in the past month, “Punisher: War Zone”is without a doubt the most eager of the three to sacrifice an intriguing story and talented actors for boxes of Hollywood’s famous fake shell casings.

In the latest reimaging of Marvel’s Punisher action hero, Ray Stevenson, (TV’s “Rome”) stars as Frank Castle, the disgruntled vigilant also known as the Punisher. For the past five years, Castle has worked with the police, the very same squad ordered to bring him in, to clean up the streets of New York City.

In his latest attempt exterminate a local mob organization Castle leaves the gangster Billy Russoti (Dominic West, TV’s “The Wire”) to die in a glass bottle recycling machine. To Frank’s surprise, Russoti survives and with the help of his sanity challenged brother Looney Bin Jim (Doug Hutchinson, “The Burrowers”), has vowed to bring punishment to the Punisher.

Months before its release, there were rumors that the latest Punisher film was so horrible, executives at Lionsgate were debating ditching a theatrical release for a straight-to-DVD run. With release of “Punisher: War Zone”in theaters Friday, only the second part of that rumor proves to be false.

While the past Punisher plots may have not been aiming for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, they at least tried to create sympathy for their main character by showing the tragic loss of his family. Between Stevenson’s fake tears and the films poorly edited flashbacks, Castle’s story only comes off as comical in “War Zone”. With the emotional aspect out of the picture, viewers are simply treated to one very large, unattractive, and angry man killing many other homely men of lesser stature.

Honestly, a retarded donkey could act better Stevenson. Seriously, all the donkey would have to do is show two different facial expressions and utter a few hee-haws and it would accomplish more than Stevenson did during the film’s entire runtime.

The rest of the ensemble cast, composed of renowned TV actors make the whole experience even worse with some of the worst New York accents ever heard on film. Everyone, especially West, had the hardest time trying to figure out how to properly speak and move their lips at the same time. Lucky for West, after his accident, all the poorly applied makeup hides his struggle to form proper pronunciation.

Since “War Zone”doesn’t deserve the title of movie, it is best qualified as a glorified gun show that takes place at a WWE wrestling match. Not only do countless necks get snapped, but the heads attached to those necks soon after get blown off. In one of the film’s best moments, Castle even uses a rocket launcher to disintegrate a criminal acrobat leaping from one rooftop to another.

With 2008 providing two of the best superhero movies of the past decade in “The Dark Knight”and “Iron Man”, most should be able to forget that “Punisher: War Zone”, Marvel Comic’s bastard film, was even released.

‘Punisher: War Zone’
Release Date: December 5
Director: Lexi Alexander
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, and Doug Hutchinson
Genre: Action, Crime
Rating: R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use.
Grade: D+

Jay Brissenden is a film critic for the Nevada Sagebrush. He can be reached at: