The Punisher

2 out of 10


A Brutal Beating For Both The Brain And The Wallet

PLOT: Frank Castle, an ex-cop, turned drunk vigilante, spends a couple of hours trying to pump lead into the heads of anyone who so much as parks a car for a petty criminal. "What makes you different from them?", asks a concerned neighbour. "They've still got something to loose!", growls Castle, in a reply that sums up the worthless nastiness and hideous moral basis of this vile misuse of celluloid. For surveys clearly show that most crime is committed by ordinary people who conclude that they can't get what they deserve within the law, so they're justified in breaking it, and this garbage reaches forth to hand them all a medal for vendetta as a sound way of life, as the "Punisher" declares, "Sometimes it is necessary to act outside the law."

The killing spree begins when, with callous abandon and laughable overkill in supporting firepower, Frank Castle (played by Thomas Jake) has managed to entice and entrap two petty criminals into a pointless bust that leaves one of them riddled full of bullets. Not surprisingly, his father, Mr Sing, a corrupt banker to the mob, somewhat unhappy at the way Castle's family is partying on his son's grave, sends some heavies to wipe them out. As the sole survivor, Castle takes to the bottle and escaltes the war still further by systematically wiping out Sing's family, friends and employees, whether or not they were involved. It leaves the obvious question, if this sort of tit-for-tat were in anyway responsible, what would happen if the breaved families of those henchmen, not involved in murder, who Castle slays, were to take their own revenge on other familes of the FBI? Simple, by Tuesday week, we'd all be living in a parallel of the West Bank, with more dead in the streets than "Dawn of the Dead".

And then there's the gay hood... Sing's righthand man is Quentin Glass, who, we are repeatedly told, is a sadist, yet there is scant evidence otherwise for this. Guess this is just all part of the stereotyping in a film where macho man is the hero and the effeminate are the enemy.

In between the endless slaughter, the screen is filled mainly with misty eyed pictures of Castle's dead family, leaving the film moving along at a pace as slow as the pedestrians which Castle feels no pity in running down by his endless, wreckless drunk driving. Scenes with Castle's nice, but dirt poor, troubled neighbours, are, at times, touching, yet little of this is developed, being crudely shoved aside to make way for another round of mindnumbing violence.

Even in the action parts, the film is laughably poor, with a man blown up by an exploding barbeque, instantly and obviously turning into a plastic tailor's dummy. Even more surreal is the nail varnish issue. One hitman, sent to rid the world of the noxious Castle, wears black nail varnish. Castle clearlyu thinks its a good idea as he too is sporting it at the wheel of a car in the next scene. Now if any of us were to be involved in a road accident, what would we regard as the most important first thing to do? Get out of the burning vehicle? Call for help? Not Castle! His main concern is to remove the varnish, for he emerges miraculously without a flick of it!

As his adversary, Mr Sing is played by John Travolta in one of his all-time worst performances. One has the feeling, he must have been under some intense pressure from the Scientologists to have had to appear in it, for long gone is the loveable rogue, the evil charmer with always a philosophical line and instead, he gives us a bad tempered cretin who whines his way throughout a flick that marks a new, all time low point, for Marvel Superhero flicks.

By the end, it's hard not to burst out laughing, a Castle appears on a bridge infront of a wobbly camera to proclaim to the world that every sadist in America had better watch out - presumable as he doesn't want any competition, for, by then, he and the film's Director have amply proven themselves to be the sickest f**kers in town!

Lion Gate Films have gained a reputation for making films that are too violent for anyone else to make....."The Punisher" is a film that is too stupid for anyone else to see!

Paying To See It Is Punishment Enough

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett