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Punisher: War Zone


Stars: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchison, Colin Salmon, Wayne Knight, Dash Mihok, Julie Benz, Stephanie Janusauskas, Mark Camacho, Larry Day

Director: Lexi Alexander

There’s nothing marvellous – or comic, for that matter – in this noisy, violent, action packed and largely futile attempt at bringing the Marvel Comics avenging superhero to celluloid life again.

When Dolph Lundgren attempted to bring the vengeful comic book character to celluloid life in 1989, audiences rewarded him by staying away in droves. A similar fate met Thomas Jane when he had a stab at making the character come alive on screen in 2004. But apparently you can’t keep a superhero down (although in this case it might just be worth trying garlic, a stake through the heart, holy water or even kryptonite at the last resort) and so Stevenson steps into Lundgren and Janes’ poisoned shoes and delivers another violence-and-action-packed turkey for which, I’d guess, there will be precious little thanksgiving among the perpetrators of this redundant offering.

Violence is the keynote of the noisy farrago that is the result of Stevenson seeking vengeance for the death of his wife and family while psycho hoodlum West hams it up as the vicious facially scarred villain Jigsaw. The name is quite appropriate since the disconnected screenplay (blame Nick Santora, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway) is in pieces, like a jigsaw, rather than linear, relying on action, action and more action to keep you watching. Which you tend to do, not because what you are watching is particularly entertaining but simply because you assume that it must get better at some time in the future. It doesn’t.

Alan Frank

USA/Germany 2008. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 22 Feb 2009