Punisher War Zone (2008) Review

director: Lexi Alexander

writers: Nick Santora, Matt Holloway, Arthur Marcum

staring: Ray Stevenson and Dominic West

genre: Action | Crime | Comic

released: December 4, 2008 (U.S.)

Punisher is one Marvel Universe comic book characters that should have taken the road of the Blade films. Ultimate focus on the main character and at the same time make a cool film with fancy effects and action so it could sell. Instead of that happening, people with wrong and awkward ideas of who Frank Castle the Punisher is, make a film that makes a mockery of one of comics coolest characters.


Here the film kind of continues from the events of the first film (even though viewing is not needed to see this film). Punisher (Ray Stevenson) now in N.Y. is taking on the local mob boss Gaitano Cesare. Killing on sight in the crime bosses’ family home and not being shy on spilling a lot of blood, he does his job and cleans out house. Billy Russoti (Dominic West) and his gang are the only ones spared and are later tracked by the Punisher at a local dock. There Punisher continues his slaying and kills without knowing a undercover F.B.I. agent. Too bad for the Punisher that he had to go messing with Billy Russoti and his disfiguring transformation into a loony psychopath now calling himself Jigsaw. Now Punisher has to also deal with a FBI agent who is after him for his ex-partners death. Punisher feeling guilty over his mistake, believes its his duty to protect F.B.I’s agent family reminding him of his own tragedy and what turned him into a killing machine. But the only thing standing between safety for the family is Jigsaw's thirst for revenge and a F.B.I. agent committed to bringing the Punisher down.


Before seeing this film you have to know, it is not for those weary of blood and guts, as their is a lot of it. Not to say it’s not fun to see a lot of blood and gory effects, but its taken to the limits at times. And here in lies the problem with the film. It doesn't know what kind of film to be. On the one hand it wants to be a crime/drama with the Punisher’s pain of losing his family and his connection to the dead F.B.I. agents family that he’s protecting. On the flip-side this film is trying to be a bloody and disgusting action B-movie with silly characters, gore, stupid dialogue and insane situations. This film should have picked to be one or the other because the mix proves to not help its case at all.

The only thing that the film has going for it, is that it does have actors that go along with the material either the dramatic beats or silly blood bath scenes perfectly. For example the new actor playing the Punisher isn't bad. Ray Stevenson is a capable actor and shows to be a good Punisher but with very little material to play with. The film does have some great set pieces that are quite nice to see the Punisher in action. And even the ludicrous performances of the bad guys can be salvaged for comic effect which film isn't trying to do (at least not all the time). Seeing the film in an completely different kind of perspective is the only way to enjoy the film to the fullest. Something that I find remarkable if possible.


A lot could have been done with the film. A writer who could have had a better idea of what the Punisher is or who could bring even a fresher take on him could have been found. The joke is that was supposed to happen, but the studio opted-ed not to go with TV show Shield's writer Kurt Sutter's script because it was deemed too "serious". Therefore, I advise only curious comic book fans and fans of gore too see this film. Anyone else should stay away because “Jesus doesn't save, Punisher saves…”

Personal Rating:

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review by Paul Katsaros

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