"Punisher: War Zone"
Directed by Lexi Alexander.
Written by Nick Santora, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.
Starring Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchison and Julie
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 12/7/08
Let me, for once, be honest and direct.
(Yeah, that's a new one for me!) I went to see "Punisher: War
Zone" this morning purely to add fodder to the Hard Vice category.
Let me say this--I don't know if I have ever been this completely
wrong about a movie ever, because I thought this movie was actually
Now, let's make sure that we're looking at
an apples-to-apples comparison here: I also thought that
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was a $9.50 Show, but they
are what they are for very different reasons. Following up on
a so-so "Punisher" film in 2004, "War
Zone" is not a sequel, but a restart to the franchise...great idea
number one. Great idea number two: dump a good actor who looks
nothing like the Punisher (Thomas Jane) for a so-so actor who looks
exactly like the Punisher (Ray Stevenson, from the HBO series
Great idea number three: make this film
To quote the review in the San Francisco Chronicle: "...this
is truth in advertising at its best. People get punished.
In a war zone." "Punisher: War Zone" has some of the nastiest killing you will see
in a movie this or any other year, but it works given that all you
entered the theater to do was watch the Punisher, aka Frank Castle,
kill a shitload of bad guys. And, boy, do you get a ton of
that during this movie.
Adding to the strengths of this film:
The film's director has been nominated
for an Oscar and is a former karate champion. Uh, and
she's a woman!
The film's writers have worked on "Law
and Order", "Prison Break" and this year's
Co-stars include Dominic West, who is
our man McNulty from The Greatest TV Show Ever, "The Wire."
The film doesn't bother giving us Frank
Castle's home life, a big mistake from the 2004 version.
Dolph Lundgren does not appear in this
The action scenes don't feature the
newest fad in fight scenes, making camerawork so shaky that I
get motion sickness; the shootouts are well shot, too.
The movie has one of those low-budget
metal soundtracks, like a B-level version of the soundtrack from
No, no, no, the film's not perfect.
However, it is very enjoyable given that I thought it would be
guaranteed dogshit AND the simple fact is that this year, a lot of
the big films that I was excited about really disappointed me.
That's good enough for me, friends!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard