“Punisher War Zone” took a critical lambasting upon its release, and made less at the box office than its predecessor, 2004′s “Punisher.” The DVD came out recently, and comic-book fans who can handle some R-rated gore may realize that “War Zone” took more punishment than it deserved.
Lexi Alexander directed “War Zone.” She’s a former kickboxing champion who directed the Academy Award-nominated short film “Johnny Flynton.”
The Punisher is portrayed by Ray Stevenson, best-known for HBO’s “Rome.” He’s darker than the previous Punishers, Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane. The movie reveals its intentions in the first 10 minutes, as the Punisher busts into a mob meeting and brutally kills the attendees.
He then trails mobster Billy Russoti (Dominic West); in the melee Russoti’s face is disfigured, turning him to the villain Jigsaw. Their conflict is the focus of “War Zone,” which mixes relentless action with at-times corny dialogue.
In a lot of ways, “War Zone” resembles the 1980s action films that dominated when the Punisher was at his most popular as a comic-book character.
The filmmakers were aiming for a filmed version of the Punisher MAX comic-book series by writer Garth Ennis, and while it doesn’t quite have the depth of those stories, it’s as close of an adaptation as we’re likely to see.
- Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman