Review Date: April 12, 2004
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh, Michael France
Producers: Gale Anne Hurd
Thomas Jane as The Punisher
John Travolta as Howard Saint
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Joan
Why on God's green earth anyone decided that a subplot about Travolta's right-hand man and his hottie wife would be of interest to anyone looking for a fun, action movie about a man and his thirst for guns and revenge, is beyond me! I mention that particular unnecessary piece of the puzzle because it also features Castle at his least interesting-- taking the time to play "MacGyver", a paparazzi and a private dick, all at the same time. Dude...lock and load, man...lock and load!! The film's also packed with some pretty horrid dialogue ("I asked you to avenge our son...and you did"-followed by a make-out session), a bevy of incompetent henchmen who apparently need little else than to suit up in black to let us know that they're "bad", a number of over-the-top "campy" moments that simply did not belong in this movie (not to give anything away, but one of the last scenes features major explosions ending in an overhead shot that simply has to be seen...to be laughed at...hilariously bad!) and most disappointing of all, perfunctory action sequences, which should have been the film's backbone, but are quite unmemorable instead. I think the movie's biggest problem is that it simply wasn't able to balance its tones correctly, leading to certain scenes attempting to convey actual emotion, while others felt like cute homages to films like EL MARIACHI and THE GODFATHER 2 (I knew it was you, Fredo!) and ridiculous sing-a-longs with goofy "movie neighbors". It felt like a bad episode of "Miami Vice" at times...
I stopped taking most of it seriously after a while and was able to enjoy some of it on a "cheesy" level, but even then, it was still bad overall. The actors were "okay" for the most part, but most seemed to be acting "with" something: Jane with his pecs, Patton with his Fu-Manchu, Harring with her luscious boobs, Travolta with his hair and Jane (once again) with his tight-ass T-shirts! I had a fun time discussing this film with some buddies after the film, if only because we came up with about a zillion things that were wrong with it (although in its defense, it had its "moments" like every scene featuring Castle with a glass of Wild Turkey at his lips-much like the Arrow every morning -- and one of the final scenes featuring a flashback to his wife), like "Where the fuck were the cops in this town?" and "How come everyone in the world seemed to know where the Punisher lived, but did nothing about it?" and "Were the filmmakers too cheap to hire any extras for the film...it's a friggin' ghost town!" I could go on and on with shit like that, but I'll let you enjoy some of it either on DVD or a drunken evening with your buds (and I ain't talking about your buddies, either!) In fact, take a shot every time Castle goes shirtless...trust me, you'll be dead drunk before you know it! Disappointing, action-light, B-flick with sparks of interest, but a general overdose of mismatched tone and unremarkable entertainment value. Rent PAYBACK instead...now there's a gritty, urban, revenge classic! PS: You lost me at Tampa, Florida.