Punisher: War Zone

Punisher: War Zone movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Action/Adventure
A movie based on the comic about Frank Castle, also known as The Punisher (Ray Stevenson), who faces down his enemy, a former mob boss known as Jigsaw(Dominic West).
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West
Director: Lexi Alexander
Running time: 1:47

Editorial Review

It's hard to say exactly when my resistance broke down while watching "Punisher: War Zone," the almost entirely joyless sequel to the 2004 film adaptation of the Marvel Comics series about tortured vigilante Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson, replacing an apparently shamefaced Tom Jane).

Could it have been when Frank, who goes by the more superheroic moniker the Punisher, shoves a pencil several inches up his own nostril to loudly wrench a piece of cartilage back into alignment after suffering a broken nose while meting out one of his trademark bloodbaths? No, that happens way too early.

How about when one of the villains (Dominic West) is thrown into a machine that grinds recycled glass? Nah, too predictable. Frank should have known that it would only turn the bad guy into a badly scarred master criminal bent on revenge, and with an even cooler nickname, Jigsaw, than his own.

Maybe it was the scene of human cannibalism, courtesy of Jigsaw's brother, Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison). Or maybe the broken wineglass shoved through the trachea of a Russian mobster. Or one of various impalings. Oh, I know! It was the second close-up of grievous head trauma resulting from high-caliber-bullet wounds. After that, I was a giggling idiot, laughing like a psychopath at every arterial spurt.

Now I realize that, for some, the above (partial) list will serve only as an advertisement for the movie's sanguinary charms. But anyone with a modicum of good sense -- or a weak stomach -- will take it as a warning to stay the heck away from this literally and figuratively deadly "War Zone."

-- Michael O'Sullivan (Dec. 5, 2008)

Contains drug abuse, liberal profanity and a punishing level of violence.