The Punisher Reviews
Well every actor in here is either absolutely boring or one dimensional characters that are not really worth caring for. Every one of the actor's expositions are told by someone else in the most non interesting way. A lot of the side mafia goons in here only say things like "Fuck you, (insert racial slur here)" or every time the children talk it is poorly dubbed over by some other kid's audio. They focus more on the side characters and antagonist's rather than the Punisher himself and even then it is downright appalling. Dolph Lundgren gives one of the most uninteresting efforts in his acting career along with the least amount of dialogue. There are times where you can tell he just does not give a shit at all that he is in a movie and the lines that he delivers are just so robotic while coming off sounding a little Stallone-ish. The soundtrack in here is flat-out dull, especially 80's standards. The only credit that I can give it is the sheer amount of violence that they deliver which is okay at times. Overall, it doesn't help that this movie is just nothing more than a heaping pile of eighties. It is all the troupes and clichés of an action flick without even the slightest of the modicum of the depth of that genre. What's left is crazy, hammy, overplayed, and even at times completely nonsensical. The Punisher might have started as a comic book but this movie turned out to be more of a cartoon. Which is why in the end I give it a 1 and a half stars out of five.
Following the same formula as Danny Cannon's adaptation of Judge Dredd, The Punisher is reduced to being just another action vehicle for its star instead of doing anything with its character. I never familiarized myself with the source material, but neither did Mark Goldblatt when he directed The Punisher. In his last film to date as director, Mark Goldblatt establishes that his talent lies strictly in editing other films and not directing The Punisher.
For one thing, The Punisher has minimal to do with the titular character. The film gives no background to the character outside of around 10 seconds worth of random flashbacks to a car explosion which has subtle implications of loss and vengeance behind them. Nothing is actually clarified, and so Frank Castle spends the entire film under the identity of The Punisher. The film betrays the character by giving him no background and not giving viewers a chance for him to transition from his former identity into the sadistic and merciless killing machine he is known for. It is a paper thin adaptation of the comic series with nothing that respects its source material in the slightest. The film actually left me less than eager to read the comic series, and I don't think that anybody who has seen the film could blame me for saying that. To be frank, the film could not have less to do The Punisher in terms of narrative, and it adds nothing to his legacy by stripping away anything about the comic series solely so that it can pave the way for a poorly constructed Dolph Lundgren action vehicle.
The action sequences are way too tame. With the fight choreography being too slow and improvised as well as the cinematography and editing being shaky and repetitive during these scenes, The Punisher cannot even succeed as a guilty action pleasure of its own right, let alone a legitimate adaptation of the comic series. It is painfully ironic that director Mark Goldblatt would later earn an Academy Award nomination for his editing work on Terminator 2: Judgement Day when his actual directorial work on The Punisher ensured that the editing was terrible. If he had have done it himself then the film could have been a lot better, but with the weak cinematography capturing the poor choreography and overly dim lighting in the generic setting, there is nothing to look at.
One of the big problems with The Punisher is its shoddy production values. Built off a limited budget of a meagre $9 million, it looks no better than half the direct-to-video action films that Dolph Lundgren has featured in over his long and repetitive career. The action is shoddy, the premise is a ridiculous waste of a popular comic book character and the film is so poorly made that it is not even funny. Usually, films along these lines may have a sense of 80's nostalgia or a sense of value coming from the fact that the film is so bad that it's good. The Punisher instead defies both of these and remains a film so bad that it is terrible. It didn't even attempt to capture a high concept premise and just used the name of a popular comic series to tell a generic story about vengeance without any good violence or the slightest bit of tension. I didn't believe anything I saw in The Punisher, and half the time I couldn't believe that it would go so wrong. But with poor directorial work from Mark Goldblatt and a low budget, all the film does is try to be a ridiculously cheaply made cash grab which seems not to have worked well enough at all.
And though Dolph Lundgren was one of the key things attracting me to The Punisher, all I can say is that he was massively miscast. I thought that the grim and sadistic nature that Dolph Lundgren displayed as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV would transfer over into his characterization of Frank Castle in The Punisher. Instead, he just stands around with his muscles and black hair as he pulls the trigger on a gun which apparently hits his enemies in poorly choreographed action scenes. There is nothing for him to do in the role, and so he has no ass to kick and no character to work with. Instead of even trying to go for the sadistic darkness behind the character, Dolph Lundgren simply moves around slowly and says every word in the most generic manner. And unlike his performance as He-Man in Masters of the Universe, it is not even cheesy. Dolph Lundgren is just bad in The Punisher. He doesn't come off as being the slightest bit threatening, he just brings an emotionless hulk of a character to the role which doesn't even stand up to Sylvester Stallone's terrible performance as Marion "Cobra" Cobretti in his lacklustre action vehicle Cobra from 1986, three years prior to The Punisher. Dolph Lundgren is in poor form in The Punisher.
Academy Award winning actor Lou Gossett, Jr. can't even find anything to do. Though he manages to play the same basic authority figure type character in every film with a slight change each time, The Punisher shows him at some of his lowest by handing him a thin character and not challenging him in the slightest. He has no decent scenes and nothing to work with, and his screen time is minimalistic. He is a wasted gimmick.
So although The Punisher boasts the name of a popular comic book hero, it could not have less to do with the series and instead turns out to be just another low budget and cheaply constructed Dolph Lundgren action vehicle without any sense of value in terms of atmosphere or action which prevents it from even succeeding as a guilty action pleasure for fans with the lowest standards.