It's Not Revenge
The Punisher
Review by Ross Anthony

The Punisher This is not a very good movie, but it's fun -- intentionally, and not. Rather consistently uneven, the direction strays from comic-book-esque, to quite somber/serious/grotesque, to comedic, and back again. The dialogue too dips and levels from quick and clever, to plainly stupid; but most often hovers at about average. Who is the audience? At times, the psuedo-comic book touch and feel seems rather immature (or 1970's cop movie cliché) perhaps kids would appreciate it? Although, as an adult, sometimes the clichés hit so hard, they strike the funny bone -- more than once this audience burst out in laughter. For example, the wounded punisher emerges from below the floor on a flat bed elevator as a long spark arcs over his buff body like lightening. Did the director intend to make me laugh? Who cares? I was entertained.

But, then there are moments too harsh for little kids; in fact, the opening sequence where a bunch of kids get killed is even a little too grim for me. Fortunately, the film targets only grown-ups for the rest of its killing. Tom Jane, too, as the punisher, is sometimes strong and believable and sometimes just a good looking guy who's speaking the lines; overall though -- he's likeable. A reviewer friend at the screening (Luke at tells me the comic book punisher is supposed to be just as bad as the bad guys, this film takes Tom Jane in that direction but can't let go of keeping him a nice guy. (Luke didn't like this film -- he prefers the 1999 original picture.) I like John Travolta as the villain. Initially, he's just about the only acting anchor, but soon enough a ragtag group that befriends the Punisher helps out in that department. Without them (especially Ben Foster), this film would tumble instead of clunking along.

Billed as a superhero without superpowers, this Punisher fills that void with movie magic special effects. The "Terminator" sounding score reflects this guy's movie ability to stay alive despite logic. Campy, with some genuinely well put together moments, this action-packed B movie entertained me, and so I'm giving it a B+.

  • The Punisher. Copyright © 2004. Rated R. 123 minutes.
  • Starring Tom Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Roy Scheider, Laura Harring, Ben Foster, Samntha Mathis, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
  • Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh.
  • Screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, Michael France.
  • Story based on Marcel comic book character.
  • Produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Arad at Lions Gate/Marvel.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:00:49 PDT