Click the Jump to read Madman Mundt’s Punisher War Zone rant…

First off, let me say that Punisher War Zone is not a great film. It is no X-Men, Hell, it’s not even Iron Man. But it doesn’t need to be, nor should it be. What it is instead, though, is the most brutal, cold-blooded, visceral comic book film of all time. It is a bloodbath, and is categorically different from all other comic book films because, in the end, when all is said and done, the Punisher is a villain. To call him an anti-hero is not even correct — Frank Castle is straight up villainous.

And his reptilian dispatching of criminals is exactly what we love the Punisher for. While Spidey and Batman capture thugs for the System to process, Castle processes them immediately. With a 12-gauge blast to the face. Expect plenty of blood, severed heads, sprayed brains and almost splatter-film levels of gore. No one is safe in the War Zone: not children, not heroes, not even grandmothers (for real).

And for that, Marvel has to be commended. Making a Rated R comic film is nearly heretic, but someone up high had the balls to see that doing the Punisher any other way was impossible. It’s one of many reasons why the 2004 version failed…not to mention casting John Travolta as the villain (that’s like fearing Richard Simmons) and basing the film inexplicably in Miami instead of New York (huh?). Lexi Alexander (who did an apt job with Green Street Hooligans) is not going to win any Oscars for his directing, but he did a damn fine job of pacing the film, and adding enough character to Castle to make it more than a simple splatter film. And the casting of Ray Stevenson is nothing short of sublime — he hits the perfect timbre of white-eyed ruthlessness and profound sensitiivity, which any lesser actor is incapable of (Tom Jane included). One could’ve seen this coming with his impeccable performance of Titus Pullo on HBO’s under appreciated Rome. Ray Stevenson is Frank Castle.

Ain’t It Cool News has an accurate review that compared PWZ with Starship Troopers, and I couldn’t agreee more. For the first 15 minutes of Troopers, I was incredulous at how bad a film it was. Then I realized Verhoevan was manifesting a comic book into film, and I let all its flaws go. I allowed for the horrendous acting, stilted dialogue and unbelievable action, because it was nothing more than pulp on celluloid. And Punisher War Zone is the same way: you don’t have to believe the plot, you can forgive the plotline holes, all because the Punisher is delivering exactly what the comic book promised.

And that is where I disagree with AICN — I think fans of Frank Castle will be positively charged by this version, they will not long for a more “serious” adaptation. They will be delighted, if that word applies to seeing henchmen getting their gullets opened. People were cheering the Punisher’s brutality as if it were the Superbowl — and in this day where we see guys like OJ walk free (well, not anymore I guess), why not cheer for the guy who plays cop, judge and executioner all in one? Who doesn’t want to see the drug lord finally get his penance?

And to give the film proper credit, the acting and plot were infinitely better than Starship Troopers, hands down.

Do I recommend this film? Not for the weak of stomach or cinematic purists, that’s for sure. But for fans of action — and absolutely for fans of the Frank Castle — this is a must-see movie.

The Punisher I know and love…

One Response to “Punisher War Zone: Who Ordered the Exploding Head Burrito?”

  1. […] managed to come out with, and that doesn’t even count Ray Stevenson’s incarnation of The Punisher (yeah, I know most people hated the movie but they’re wrong). If DC has any hope of taking […]

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