Sunday, December 14, 2008

Movie Review:Punisher Warzone

If you ever watch the old 1980s television series the A-team and thought, "Wow, they made a mistake. Take the number of shots fired in the series and instead shoot them in each episode and you would have something," then Punisher:Warzone is for you. 

If you ever thought, "The only thing that interferes with a great action movie is an involved plot, then this movie is for you.

If you ever thought, "I really need to see the inside of more heads, preferably extremely bloody" then this movie is right up your alley.

If you ever thought, "Action movies are far and away best when everyone plays their role seriously and to the hilt except the villains who need to be extremely cartoonish...adopting bizarre, exaggerated walks, maniacal cackles, and weird speaking styles" then this movie is definitely one you need to see.

Rumors abounded as to why director Lexi Alexander had all her blogs about the process taken down and that she had been removed from the project. If the antics of Jigsaw (Dominic West) and Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchinson) had anything to do with her point of view...she did very well because they detracted from what otherwise would have been a great take on the Punisher.

Fans of the comic know what I am talking about. The Punisher, aka Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) was a brutal vigilante who was notable for his high body counts, creative uses of a variety of weapons, high body counts, the number of shots he fired in each issue, and his high body counts.

On the third try, they finally got the Punisher right. His costume is outstanding, with the ghostly skull on his Kevlar making a real impact statement unlike the cheesy T-shirt from the 2004 Thomas Jane bomb The Punisher. 

Unlike the brooding, moody Jane, Stevenson's Punisher indeed seems driven by vengeance but aware of what he is doing. He has developed a network of helpers who identify when, where, and how many mobsters will be gathered. He then shows up to dispense his brand of justice...a high-octane bout of gunfire, physical decimation, and killing.

The movie is a really solid action movie. 

Unfortunately, Dominic West looks like he thinks he is playing a cartoon character. His walk, his facial expressions, vocal inflections, and interactions with Doug Hutchinson move them from "believable, intense villains" status straight to "How in the world did you get (mis)cast for this part?

Still, there is plenty of solid acting, a decent plot, and lots of action that should make non-fanboy status Punisher fans go home happy. Definitely an enjoyable effort despite the ridiculous twosome. 

Naturally, there are a few loose, what happens to the Russians in the climactic hotel shoot-out? We can assume...but it is certainly not clear.

On the bright side, the movie is enjoyable, action packed, avoids becoming maudlin, and has a nice conclusion. If you like good shoot-out movies with a healthy dose of hand-to-hand combat, go see Punisher Warzone. Just ignore the Jigsaw and his gang.

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