Saints & Sinners
"The Punisher" could possibly be my favourite comic book adaptation for the simple reason it is not very comic book like and is more like a throw back to the action movies of the 80s. For those who never experienced 80s action that means big muscles, big guns, big explosions, big action and to be honest a big lot of nonsense but it works. We have a simple storyline of a former lawman turned vigilante after the murder of his entire family and we watch him go after those behind it, simple as that. It's by no means the best big action revenge movie I have ever seen but with it feeling less like a comic book adaptation it is more enjoyable.
During an FBI operation the son of gangster Howard Saint (John Travolta - Domestic Disturbance) is killed and Saint wants revenge on the man behind the mission, FBI Agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane - The Sweetest Thing). But having sent his men to slaughter Castle and his family they failed to complete the mission as Frank doesn't die and returns to see revenge, turning vigilante to kill all those including Howard Saint who killed his family.
"The Punisher" is probably the most straight forward action movie you can get, it may open with Frank Castle undercover and faking his death as part of a sting but the end result is we have Frank looking for revenge. Now his way of getting revenge is enjoyable if that is the right word because whilst we get a lot of big action scenes we also see Frank manipulate things so that Saint thinks his right hand man, who unbeknown to him is gay, is in fact having an affair with his wife. It's a nice twist to make "The Punisher" more than just mindless violence but the violence is the predominant element. Oh you could say that Frank is a dark, tormented character but he is no different to any other character you will see looking for revenge.
So as to the action, well it is a joyous throw back to the 80s where big guns, big muscles and big death scenes dominate things. Firstly Thomas Jane as Frank looks impressively muscular and he has this relentlessness about him which makes you understand he is a man who isn't going to stop but will bide his time. But he also looks good when it comes to beating people up even when it is someone twice the size of him which gives us a nice over the top fight sequence with Kevin Nash as The Russian. In fact all the action looks good from a brief car sequence to the final shoot out.
And aside from Jane, well John Travolta and Will Patton almost make a good double act as the slightly dangerous Saint and his right hand man Quentin Glass. To be honest the characters are ordinary and give little for either Travolta or Patton to get their teeth into but they work as bad guys. In fact all the characters from Roy Scheider as Frank's father to Rebecca Romijn as Joan, the woman who lives in the same block as Frank work and they often add the touch of humour, the almost corniness you expect.
What this all boils down to is that "The Punisher" to me is less like a comic book adaptation and more of a throw back to the 80s where we get lots of big action. And as such if you are fan of 80s action then "The Punisher" will be right up your street, a simple revenge storyline with lots of explosions and fighting and no pretensions of being anything more than it is.