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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Tom Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Roy Scheider, Laura Harring, Ben Foster

Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

So, another Marvel anti-hero reaches the screen and just as with Spider-Man, tries to improve on something that’s been done before.

It was easy for Spiderman to top the camp 70’s outings that were really only TV movies and so lacking in budget that they shifted from NYC to Los Angeles to save on webbing.

THE PUNISHER also had it easy: topping a Dolph Lundgren movie of the late 80’s that disappeared without a trace, or perhaps that’s just a collective selective memory.

The new outing follows the plot of the comic strip, one of the darkest in Marvels history, but so simple a revenge tragedy that it looks like an episode of MIAMI VICE, albeit with really good guest stars.

The story revolves around FBI agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) who needs to disappear after a big job, retire and live in a village in rural England. The reason he has to disappear is that his last assignment resulted in the death of Johnny Saint, son of Tampa mob boss Howard Saint (John Travolta reprising his role from FACE/OFF it seems). Grieving, he orders a hit on Castle, who is attending a family reunion in Puerto Rico. Wanting more retribution, Saint’s wife (Laura Harring), tells his 2nd in command, Quentin Glass (the always reliable Will Patton) to kill the entire family. Everybody at the reunion is wiped out (including his father played by Roy Schneider taking time out from Orange commercials). Castle is left for dead but regains his health and becomes The Punisher, hell bent on redemption.

The main strength in this film is the supporting cast, a real mix of beauty and the geek who make up the Punishers main supporters. This is very dark and will appeal to a slightly older comic fan, those into the harder images of the graphic novel rather than the classic images of Stan Lee- a busy man at the moment.

This film isn’t a total failure and will have its fans, but unlike the Punisher himself, it just doesn’t seem to know who it’s aiming at.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: No Marvel, but great if you miss 80’s cop shows or you’re a Goth.

3 out of 6 stars