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Punisher: War Zone (2008)

tomatometer

27

Average Rating: 4.2/10
Reviews Counted: 101
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 74

Punisher: War Zone recalls the excessively violent, dialogue-challenged actioners of the 1980s, and coincidentally feels two decades out of date.

8

Average Rating: 3.6/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 24

Punisher: War Zone recalls the excessively violent, dialogue-challenged actioners of the 1980s, and coincidentally feels two decades out of date.

audience

42

liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 131,545

My Rating

Movie Info

Marvel Comics' vigilante character The Punisher gets another big-screen outing in this third film incarnation of the character, this time from Green Street Hooligans director Lexi Alexander. Fueled by revenge and aided by his trusted weapons expert, Microchip (Wayne Knight), vigilante Frank Castle (Rome's Ray Stevenson) turns the New York City streets red with blood as he takes down each and every member of the crime syndicate responsible for the death of his wife and two kids. As the

Mar 17, 2009

$7.9M

Lionsgate - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (102) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (74) | DVD (3)

'Oh God, now I've got brains spattered all over me,' exclaims The Punisher's slippery inside man, Detective Soap. You may feel the same at the end of this messy, sadistic reboot of the Marvel comic-book series.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This was a terrible movie.

December 8, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hopefully it's three strikes and you're out for The Punisher, as this latest attempt at creating another comic book franchise will prove once and for all that maybe this character just doesn't deserve the big screen treatment.

December 8, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comments (7)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At one point, the Punisher is asked who punishes him. The better question for those who made this inane bloodfest is: Why punish us?

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: USA Today | Comments (8)
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The ultraviolent third stab at Marvel's homicidal vigilante is the best and closest to the source material.

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Assuming you can appreciate the high level of gore and assorted sadistic weirdness, the action is satisfying and the dark story is close to the tone of its Marvel Comics source material.

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A blithely depraved shoot-'em-up in which its glum protagonist cuts a retributive swath across a vast criminal underworld, Punisher: War Zone echoes back to the unthinking low-budget action movies of the 1980s.

May 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

The final damning verdict left by the American box office, whom far from raced out to see it, meaning takings of 8m leave Punisher: War Zone the lowest grossing Marvel adaptation to date.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

...stands as the best offering out of Hollywood that Punisher fans could've hoped for.

February 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

One can assume another reboot will be in the offing after this monstrosity tanks at the box office.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

Part '80s action movie, part gross-out horror, this guilty pleasure is Saw meets Rambo . . .

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

God I love my revenge films...

March 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed | Comments (2)
Cinema Crazed

Unlike more high-powered Marvel heroes like Spider-Man and X-Men, The Punisher has never enjoyed much box office success and this excruciatingly terrible film certainly won't change that.

February 12, 2009 Full Review Source: SFX Magazine | Comments (3)
SFX Magazine

Earning an 18 certificate with its violence, the film is kids' stuff in all other respects: over-the-top shootouts, monstrous and barking-mad villains, a bumbling sidekick and so on. Highly enjoyable tosh.

February 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

The IQ is as low as the body count is high and the uncharismatic Ray Stevenson might as well have been wearing a mask for all the emotion he shows.

February 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK] | Comment (1)
Observer [UK]

It's a good old-fashioned guns-andaction romp - and I love it.

February 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Mail [UK]
Sunday Mail [UK]

You couldn't call it shoddy, exactly, and the actors take it painfully seriously; it's just dispiriting to see all this endeavour in the service of something so humourless and disgusting.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

The punishment doesn't end there, with anyone who hands over good money to watch this dreck also likely to feel the pain.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Another violently unsuccessful attempt to bring this comic book character to screen.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Pleasantly surprising - providing you're not put off by all the gore and dismemberment.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Castle/the Punisher is not the most charismatic comic book hero at the best of times but Stevenson's jowly pallor and oil slick of hair makes him look more like an Eastern European abattoir worker than a vigilante to be reckoned with.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

The franchise simply can't compete with better written and directed comic book offerings out there. This includes Howard The Duck...

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Digital Spy | Comments (3)
Digital Spy

Marvel, stop punishing yourselves and put this unworkable franchise out of our misery.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies | Comments (2)
Sky Movies

As entertaining as Punisher: War Zone is, there's no real depth, the plot is obvious and it's a wee bit charmless.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: FHM [UK]
FHM [UK]

This is as true to a Marvel comic tale as I've ever seen - gory, serious, intense, dark and utterly psychotic.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Teletext
Teletext

Audience Reviews for Punisher: War Zone

A mere four years after the 2004 Punisher film, we get the release of this little film, which, like the 2004 entry, is another reboot.

Well, I say reboot, but it also feels like a quasi sequel at times, even though it ultimately sets out on its own course. Why they felt the need to reboot things so soon is beyond me, though.

This time around, not only do we get the standard plot of Castle waging a war on crime vigilante/guerrilla style, we finally get the inclusion of Castle's tech support sidekick Microchip, as well as the source material villains Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim.

To start, this film, simply put, looks great. The production values are outstanding. I think they sometimes went a bit too overboard with the neon, but it does at least give the film a distinctive look and style. There's a tight pace, and, when it comes to the violence, this film really delivers the goods, getting quite graphic and gory at times, Whereas the 2004 version focused more on the drama and tactical side, this one goes all in on the brutality aspect, no doubt pleasing those who weren't fond of the 2004 one. And while I do think the violence is a highlight of this one, I think that maybe they put too much focus on it, and as a result, the film feels like the violence is the main point of things, and only there for the sake of it.

I do have to give props to the fact that there's a woman at the helm for such a balls-to-the-wall actionfest, as too few women are present in the world of action films. Lexi Alexander proves she can hold her own with this type of stuff, but unfortunately, this film suffers from the lack of a great script, or any kind of meaningful depth and substance.

Given the material though, the film is well cast and features some passable acting. I enjoyed Tom Jane's work, but I think that Ray Stevenson, so far, has done the best as Frank Castle/The Punisher. It's also nice seeing Wayne Knight back on the big screen, though it seems he once again disappeared after making this one. Dominic West and Doug Hutchison are also fine as Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim, respectively.

My only hope is that if another of these films is made, they make it a direct sequel, keep Stevenson in the lead, keep the level of violence/gore from this movie, add in the drama and intensity from the 2004 film, use the gritty aesthetics and tone from the 1989 film, either keep Alexander as director, or get someone like John McTiernan to helm it, and get someone like Garth McInnes or anyone else who wrote the comics to pen the script. If all of that is done, then there might finally be a Punisher film that is 100% in every way like the comics.
November 4, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Second reboot for this troublesome franchise and this time they finally get the casting right. Ray Stevenson is brought in as the main man and in my opinion he looks spot on for the role, kudos to the casting team.

As for the film well its a bit weak in plot really, very straight forward, very basic, how can I put this...its like Tim Burton's Batman accept replace the 'Joker' with 'Jigsaw' and add extreme violence. Sooooo bottom line I fudging like it baby!. The origins are skipped for this entry which is good, we get flashbacks but that is acceptable, we don't need all the family massacre stuff again.

The film gets right into the action with easily the best sequence of the film. A mansion full of mob bosses and henchmen cannon fodder ripe for the Punisher to exterminate. This one sequence is a pure joy to watch for action aficionados, the lights go out and our antihero appears from nowhere, he then proceeds to gun down everyone in sight with a few neck snaps and knife kills thrown in.

From then on its into the traditional and dated yet still workable plot line of a particular mob boss getting horribly disfigured whilst at the same time thought to be dead, only to come back for revenge. So its pretty much the plot line for the Joker completely copied, well you could say the same thing for almost all the Batman villains really.

First impressions for the Punisher are good, his outfit has been changed and upgraded with some heavy military police style body armour including a thick collar section, a mass of highly top of the line weaponry and his skull logo remains intact emblazoned upon his chest piece. He pretty much looks like he's just stepped out of a SWAT armoury and its the perfect look in my view. Its up to date and would be a realistic take on what someone would wear if this were a real situation. The black leather biker look is gone, that's the more fantasy based look.

Twas amusing when Castle blasts a bad guys face off with a big shotgun whilst at the same time holding this little girl. If that doesn't mess her up later on in life nothing will.

The bad guy is also highly enjoyable played by Yorkshire born Sheffield lad Dominic West. I was very impressed with his Noo Yawk dialect (hard thing to achieve) and with the sadistic humour he gave to his character Jigsaw. I'm trying not to mention a certain Batman villain here but one does tend to think of him whilst watching this film. I mean lets be frank here (no pun intended), this could easily be a Batman flick if your replaced Castle with Wayne and Jigsaw with the Joker, I think we'd all like to see a really sadistic violent Joker.

The film can't quite keep up the pace for the full run time I gotta admit, the finale is a bit anti climatic. The whole idea is very cliched really, Jigsaw goes off to recruit lots of thugs from various quarters (Chinese, Irish and blinged up black gangsters), they all hole up in Jigsaw's hideout and await Castle. It all feels a bit 'Batman Forever-ish' with all these different gangs, half expected the interior of Jigsaw's lair to light up in neon when the battle started.

So yes the whole idea for this film is pretty dated, its very cliche, very 80's, but I don't think that's a bad thing I really don't. I still can't quite understand why this flopped as its a fast paced, nasty gunfest with Castle kicking ass, what more do people want?. For me this is the best version of the Punisher so far.

Anyone else think West's performance as Jigsaw kinda looked and sounded like Al Pacino? seriously is that just me??. The more I think about it the more I think Pacino would have been great in that role, Castle vs Scarface.
July 22, 2013
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

Wait a minute, the original Punisher was a cheesy 80's action film that had little to do with the comics, the remake had a big name cast but a terrible story and again, had little to do with the comic. Punisher:War Zone, the sequel to the remake should be worst of all right? Well, it's not. Not at all in fact. It's got the story right, it's got the feel right. Ray Stevenson is a believable Frank Castle. Wayne Knight looks just like Microchip! (It's also great to see him in film again). Dash Mihok is Martin Soap, Doug Hutchison is great as Loony Bin Jim but it is Dominic West who steals the show as Jigsaw. He relishes the the opportunity and the freedom that wearing a mask can give you. The film is action packed and quite violent and gory, just like the comics. It's a pretty good adaptation and I'm sure hard core fans must be happy. I thought it ticked all the boxes for what it is and then some. More please.
April 16, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

As far as the Punisher films are concerned, this film has got to be the most accomplished, action packed and over the top film of three films. This is a pure pop corn flick, one that has a pretty decent story, but never anything great. However this film delivers a solid hour and a half of thrills that any Punisher fan will love. For my money, Warzone is a much better film that the version with Thomas Jane. I find that Ray Stevenson was a perfect Frank Castle, and he definitely brought a melancholic intensity to the role. That was something that lacked in the 2004 version. This is a flawed, but very entertaining film; Warzone delivers something that previous Punisher films didn't. This film has some very eccentric villains, which make the film that much an exciting action romp. In my book, this is the same category as The Expendables. Short on a great plot, and good acting, but delivers on great action. Of all the Punisher films that have been made, this is the best one that has yet to be made. As far as superhero films are concerned, this is hands down the most violent film that I've seen and it is just a nonstop thrill ride from start to finish. Don't watch Punisher: Warzone expecting brilliant acting and a top-notch story, you won't find it. However if you're looking for one killer action film that succeeds with delivery what you want in an action film, then this is one to check out. The film has its flaws, but the awesome action makes up for it, and for Punisher fans looking for the definitive Punisher film, then this may be that film. I certainly enjoyed this more than the previous two films, and Ray Stevenson is simply a more intense and brutal Punisher compared to Thomas Jane and Dolph Lundgren. Strap in for a wild ride that is lots of fun from beginning to end. My personal favorite of the three Punisher films. This one succeeds where the others missed the mark.
June 20, 2012
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

    1. Frank Castle/The Punisher: Let me out.
    2. Detective Martin Soap: You know, Frank, giving you a tip is one thing, password to the crime database is another, but letting you go?
    3. Frank Castle/The Punisher: Soap!
    4. Detective Martin Soap: Fine.
    – Submitted by Nick S (19 months ago)
    1. Frank Castle/The Punisher: I see you anywhere near hell... I'll kick your ass out.
    – Submitted by Dann M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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