The Punisher is one of those films that comes from old Marvel’s dark side. It’s all about killing and pain. The movie uses a common premise of one guy taking on an army, it’s not original but they put their own spin on it.
It starts with a gang boss’ son being killed in an FBI operation. The boss then wants revenge on the man who arranged it. So, the family of the FBI agent are slaughtered as the agent tries to fight back. So far, standard action movie. The twist is that as the agent fights back he gets killed, then the dock that his body’s on gets blown up.
Agent Frank Castle (played by Thomas Jane) is on his last operation for the FBI before retirement and ends up dead because of it, we’ve established that. Frank is then brought back to life with the single goal of revenge. His personality is a bit wooden but we get that he’s all about taking down the men that killed his family. He helps his slightly odd neighbours when they have trouble and shows that he’s a nice guy deep down. He’s also clever. Frank doesn’t just go in killing, instead recruiting a weak link from the enemy gang, conducting his own reconnaissance and forming a plan that will break the gang boss before finishing him is quite impressive. He doesn’t just want revenge, he wants to punish those responsible.
Then we have the gang boss, Howard Saint (played by John Travolta). We see the angry gangster who’s hurt by the loss of his son. We see how he believes himself to be untouchable and watch as his paranoia and fear grows as the movie progresses. This guy kills one of his own men early on, so we know how far he’s willing to go. Everything starts to change for the man that’s always been top of the world. It’s a well done villain.
There are some brilliantly horrible things happening in this movie, from the killing of a kid to a guy having piercings torn from his face. It’s edge of the seat stuff almost all the way through, even getting really dark with suicide being presented as an option for an ending. There’s guns, explosions, fistfights, knives and more to make the action good to watch.
Although the basic revenge idea is common, I think the pacing of the film with Travolta’s bad guy, the intensity of the action and one or two well done scenes make this a good film to sit through on a night in.