Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson, Colin Salmon, Julie Benz

Director: Lexi Alexander

Writers: Nick Santora, Art Marcum

Cinematography: Steve Gainer

Original Score: Michael Wandmacher

Running Time: 103 Mins.

Punisher: War Zone is the third attempt to jump start the Punisher as a franchise, on the evidence of its box-office reciepts stateside it looks like it has faltered once again, which is a shame as there is much to enjoy here, despite its flaws. As ever the punisher is Frank Castle, a vigilante out for revenge on the whole of New York’s ‘scum’ following the murder (which is hinted at in flashback) of his family. This time round Ray Stevenson of Rome fame is Frank Castle, following in the footsteps of Dolph Lundgren in the 1980’s and Thomas Jane more recently, and boy is he angry, very angry, this guy could give the Incredible Hulk a run for his money!

But therein lies the problem, Stevenson gives the character his best shot but the Punisher’s range is limited to killing people and endlessly feeling sorry for himself, Spiderman he is not, simply put he hasn’t got the Bruce Banner to match his Hulk. But honestly, when the film is this damn enjoyable and in all honesty sets out to do one thing, you can’t complain at lack of character development.

For this is a balls out action film, directed with just enough pizazz by Lexi Alexander (Green Street) to elevate it beyond run of the mill straight to DVD fodder. The score and city scape shots bring to mind The Dark Knight and it is obvious that that particular comic to screen masterpiece was an inspiration, especially in its depiction of larger than life villains with a mob connection.

Sadly it is in it’s depiction of the villains that are the primary stumbling block, Jigsaw (West) and Looney Bin Jim (Doug Hutchinson) (who was written specifically for the film) are cardboard cut-out psychos of the highest order, this in itself would not a problem but when it is coupled with the worst over-acting this side of Julian McMahon’s Dr. Doom there really is something wrong. Jigsaw is a blatant rip-off of Jack Nicholsons Joker, played as an unhinged mob boss seeking revenge for the Punisher’s disfiguring of his face there is zilch in the way of a story arc, simply put he gets angry and slightly MORE unhinged.

Which strangely brings me to the films strongest point, it’s gory and quite explicitly so. Something which both past incarnations have failed to do for fear of losing its key audience of teenage boys. No such qualms this time, heads explode, faces are slashed, limbs are hacked off, I’m no masochist but the Punisher is meant to be brutal, gritty and in your face it’s just a shame that Stevenson is unlikely to get the chance to give the chracter a little more depth.  


Unashamedly bereft of any depth, Punisher: War Zone is the most likely going to end up being the most ballsy action film of the year (let alone the goriest!), Ray Stevenson makes a good fist of the anti-hero with what he has to work with, but is let down by some hammy villains who really look the part even if they don’t act it, though be warned it’s not for the faint-of-heart just as a Punisher film shouldn’t be!