Punisher:War Zone (2008) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

The third incarnation of the venerable Marvel Comics character is the best yet. Beautiful cinematography and a stunning color palette give the pic an exaggerated comicbook feel. Ray Stevenson is convincing as the titular character; comfortably filling the shoes of Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane. Both of whom appeared as Frank Castle to varying degrees of success. Unlike the gruesome 2004 film ‘The Punisher’, this pic wastes no time in getting to the action. An early sequence in which our vigilante hero lays waste to a room full of mobsters is as visually exciting as anything in the ‘Bourne’ films.

Dominic West is outstanding as the vain gangster whose dropped into a grinder full of shattered glass; only to re-emerge as the severely disfigured criminal mastermind ‘Jigsaw’. His mental patient brother ‘Looney Bin Jim’ is played by Doug Hutchinson and comes off as a ‘Hannibal’-knock off, the film lags when this character is on-screen. Maybe it’s not Hutchinson fault. It’s just that West is so magnetic as the lead villain that you wish the screenplay had given him more to do.

The story is centered around the sale of a biological weapon being shipped into New York, to be used against the city’s population. A messy subplot revolves around the family of a man ‘The Punisher’ killed while undercover. Julie Benz whom is a skilled actress is required to only portray two emotions; sad and angry. Director Lexi Alexander knows how to film and stage an action sequence, and on the basis of this film she deserves a big studio picture. A dark, nihilistic alternative to the joyful ‘Iron Man’ franchise. A superhero film for the terrorist age.

Director: Lexi Alexander
Stars: Ray Stevenson , Julie Benz,Dominic West

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