The Punisher Reviews
Travolta delivering a villain with his tongue firmly in cheek!
I find it hilarious/tragic that the people behind this actually took many ideas from the Punisher comic books, but they were so obviously clueless regarding comics that they took the worst ideas from the least appropriate version of Frank in the books, which is Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Welcome Back Frank run. I love Ennis and Dillon on Preacher, and the first volume of their Punisher run is certainly entertaining, but I would never think of showing it to someone that was looking to take The Punisher to the big screen. To someone that was looking for inspiration, regarding the character, the tone, the narrative.
They were probably pointed to that specific version of The Punisher by all the comic book readers that claim it to be the best version of The Punisher on print. While not indicative of the quality of the books (again, they are entertaining and done by a top-notch writer and illustrator), that's somehow like saying Adam West is the best version of Batman. If it's your favorite version, go right ahead and say that. Just don't sell it as "the best version ever". To show you just how ridiculous that claim is, how misguided the people behind this movie were, and why I'm talking so much about a comic instead of the film itself, these are the things they pulled directly from "the best Punisher comic ever":
1. Fat guy and Thin guy: These are actual characters in the "Welcome Back, Frank" books. The tone in them is so far from what The Punisher should be (you have to read that comic strictly as Ennis and Dillon's Punisher, nothing more), that literally on the sixth page Frank is shown pulling the fat guy, who is his neighbor, from the frame of his door where he got stuck in. I'm not joking, look it up. The thin guy also lives there, has even more stupid piercings than the character in the movie, and hangs out on the steps outside of the building where he greets Frank with moronic stoner-teen lines and a thumbs up. The movie, not content with taking these 2 awful characters, that mess with the tone by providing comic relief completely uncalled for in a Punisher story, makes them dance together for no reason, and with no other effect than to distract from the fight with the Russian. That dancing bit isn't in the comic, though. So congrats to the writers for innovating in that respect.
2. The Russian: If this character looks cartoon-like, look up what he looks like in these comics. It is truly a character come to life. That's not necessarily a good thing though, and it makes me understand a lot of visual changes that movies apply to comic book characters. At least he doesn't speak in the movie, or not a lot. In the book he has dialogue that reads like Arnold Schwarzenegger hit his head, gained a thick Russian accent, and lost some significant brain functions. It is incredibly cartoonish, but at least they dialed it down in the movie. Spoiler: In the comic, Frank kills him using a pepperoni pizza and the fat guy. Yup.
3. The bad guys: I never thought about this before, but the greasy goombah look that a lot of the bad guys have in the movie is actually how they look in the comic. Very generic, stereotype mafia Italian dudes with tacky/expensive suits. I'm sure they have better dialogue in the movie though.
The girl is also a character from the books, his neighbor. Though they would have created her anyway for the movie. I have no major complaints about this character, other than there is no room in The Punisher's life for romance. He lost his wife, his children. The whole point of this character is him being consumed by vengeance, rage, hate. Frank Castle has no time for small talk with women. For dates. There is no redemption for him, nor does he desire any. Just give him more ammo and let him do his thing. They actually got this right in the comics, as the girl is really homely and Frank never entertains a relationship with her, instead leaving her some money at the end for her to pursue her dream of leaving the violent city.
Leaving everything from this specific comics version of The Punisher aside, that the people in charge tragically chose to incorporate to this movie, it is still a pretty bad movie. The characters, the dialogue, the acting, the story (Castle being an undercover FBI agent) , it is all very poor. Even the way he goes about dispatching his enemies. The manipulation of the main villain into thinking his wife is cheating on him with his number 2, with the pictures and that ridiculousness with the fire hydrant. Frank Castle is a man of action. Of violence. He's not going to drive around with a fucking fire hydrant in a bag to turn his main target's life into a telenovela. He's going to find a way to blast everyone's head off and be done with it. Not to mention the fact that he gets the wife killed in a horrible way, when she has absolutely nothing to do with his vengeance. Ridiculous, completely ludicrous.
Maybe someday we'll get this character done right for film, but for now, it's three strikes.
Muy poco digna adaptación de un superhéroe tan icónico.