Review: The Punisher (2004)

the punisher movie poster

“How is he still alive? I don’t know, Quentin, I wasn’t there. Why is he still alive? Now that’s an interesting question. Maybe he’s still alive because he was meant to suffer more, I don’t know. But how can we make him suffer if we can’t find him?”
– Howard Saint

Undercover FBI agent and former U.S. Army Delta Force operator Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) in involved in a sting operation of an arms deal that results in the death of Bobby Saint (James Carpinello). Castle returns to his wife, Maria Elizabeth Castle (Samantha Mathis), and his son, Will (Marcus Johns).They are moving one last time, and Castle has officially retired. For a family reunion, they get together in Peurto Rico. Crime kingpin Howard Saint (John Travolta) is infuriated about the death of his son, and enlists his right hand man, Quentin Glass (Will Patton) to start looking into who was involved with his son’s passing. He also instructs Glass to settle the score with Castle after he figures out he was responsible for Bobby’s death. His wife, Livia (Laura Harring), requests that they kill his entire family to even out the playing field.

the punisher 2004 frank shootout
“Howard Saint! You took everything from me!” – Frank Castle

Gunmen invade the Peurto Rico reunion and begin to slaughter the family at random. Castle loses his entire family, though is wife attempted to get away with their son, though Glass and Bobby Saint’s twin brother, John Saint (James Carpinello), butcher them on the pier. Castle arrives too late, and they think that they have killed him, too. The local fisherman Candelaria (Veryl Jones) assists Castle to his former health, though the man is now burning on a revenge mission, and rises to become The Punisher. A simple sting gone wrong has now turned into two feuding families. Castle is on his own, and returns to Tampa, Florida, to settle the score. He moves into an apartment building and meets his three odd neighbours – Spacker Dave (Ben Foster) the pierced up computer delinquent, Bumpo (John Pinette) the overweight gourmet chef and Joan (Rebecca Romijn), the waitress with dreadful taste in men.

the punisher 2004 frank castle bow
“I leave this as a declaration of intent, so no one will be confused. One: “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” – If you want peace, prepare for war.” – Frank Castle

Castle sets his sights on Mickey Duka (Eddie Jemison) and turns him on the Saint family. He becomes his inside man and feeds him all the information that he needs to start his vengeance plan. Castle rebuffs almost all the attempts that are made by his neighbours of friendship. He no longer feels that he has the time for it. Slowly but surely, Castle sets the ball in motion that will be his revenge against Howard Saint. Castle is angered that the city has done nothing in terms of judicial fronts to avenge his family and hold somebody accountable, and the news soon reaches Howard Saint’s ears that Castle is yet among them. He is even angrier to learn that Castle seems to be foiling all his assassination attempts.

the punisher 2004 joan helps frank
“He looks so weak. Is he going to die?” – Spacker Dave

Howard Saint wants Castle exterminated immediately, and starts calling in all external help. Frank Castle wants Howard Saint to suffer for the atrocities that he rained down on his family, and is intent on making it happen. Mickey Duka is in the thick of it all, his dislike for the Saints fuelling him on like nothing else could. Castle’s betrayal drives him to push harder and faster at the Saints, crippling their money-laundering business and knocking their reputation down a few notches. Will Howard Saint succeed in crushing Castle, or will Castle win out his right to exercise his revenge upon the man responsible for shredding his life to pieces?

I would award The Punisher an 8/10. Yes, that highly. I went through so much crap just to finally watch this! I ordered it the other day, it arrived, I popped it in, and then it was that silly sequel in the box, I had to return and exchange it and everything and then finally I could watch it. This was one of my favourite movies concerning punishment and vengeance ever. Punishment, justice, whatever you want to call it. It was exceedingly wretched to watch his entire family get butchered because one son was killed in the midst of a sting. Thomas Jane was cast very well for his role as Frank Castle, I think he nailed it. People complain about his acting, but I think he is a lot better than people give him credit for. I know that traditionally there shouldn’t really be humour in the Punisher comic books, but I don’t feel that the humour was overkill in here. It was woven in between scenes, but it must also be remembered that it is black humour. I also enjoyed the score for the film. John Travolta was excellent as mobster Howard Saint; he was very good to watch. This film was perfect to show that vigilante anger, frustration and the search for true justice when the system fails you, and I believe it was executed well. I know the reviews were very mixed for this, but I am on the “it was good” side. I enjoyed it the first time that I watched it when I was younger, and nothing has changed for me.