Hoo, boy. Now that I've seen all three adaptations of the Marvel comic book character and series THE PUNISHER (one with Dolph Lundgren in 1989, in 2004 with Thomas Jane, and this, a stand-alone-kinda-not-really-sequel with Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle), it seems like a MIRACLE that Marvel and Netflix got it right with Jon Bernthal on Daredevil, season 2. No, sorry, that's not enough emphasis. I mean a MOTHERFUCKING HOLY SHIT GODDAMN COCKSUCKING MIRACLE! Does this mean I didn't like this movie? Well, let's see... yes and no.
The other movie comes with Billy's character, or rather what happens when he becomes (no joke) "The JIGSAW". Why? This come after he is dropped into a vat of chemicals, uh, I mean, glass, right glass, and a doctor does the best possible work that he can do to fix the face when it's all mangled to pieces but we at first can't see him. So he smashes a mirror, and we get a look at him and when he's called 'Billy' he then says "Billy is dead, you can call me... JIGSAW." Sadly, the part where he says "and as you can see, I'm a lot piece-ier!" is left off.
And yet, with this shall we say *major* inconsistency of tone, I mostly had a lot of fun watching Punisher: War Zone. It's not that it can really be taken too seriously, despite Stevenson's performance, but because from the start the director, her crew and cast embrace much as they can the gonzo-mega-violent carnage that I guess is also a staple of the comics.
|Case in bloody point|
The tonal inconsistency also comes from the performances; maybe it was a little difficult to make things, shall one say, 'subtle' with a character like Jigsaw - again, the Batman comparisons don't help matters, and that handled its tone of hero-and-villain far better than this, you would agree - but Dominic West is so laughably bad in this. It's so fucking unsettling after seeing that he surely does know how to do a good American accent (i.e. The Wire, even the recent Money Monster), and somehow he loses that to play the kind of ridiculous HEAVY-duty accent that would just barely pass muster in a Dick Tracy movie. And Hutchinson, who maybe is having the time of his life, is equally outrageously over-done approach to a character who for some stupid reason is first introduced as seeming catatonic in a "Loony Bin", get it (and then he loses it as soon as Billy walks in to the mental hospital he drops that like a bad habit).
|I mean come on, seriously?|
If I take this material as being just completely pulpy trash with a reckless regard for human life, then it works, sort of. If I try to take it much seriously as any moral investigation of revenge and payback, it falls apart like a badly designed house. And for all of the things I can say about it it's not poorly directed (aside from the disregard, or over-regard, for the performances), and it mostly comes down to writing that is both hackey and illogical - the wife and daughter in peril, characters with guns to their heads, why back-up isn't called in certain situations MUCH SOONER than actually happens - and... I don't know, man.
The point is, it's what Ebert or Siskel might have given a thumbs down to, but admired in a lot of strange ways, in a far-out way as if it's two ladies who decided to make a barbaric, raw, take-no-prisoners *satire* of the kind of mindless action that Stallone's been doing for the better part of his career (The Expendables is like this only much, much weaker and less self-knowing). I'd say make sure you have the right group of friends - Wire fans, preferably - and get some beers and have a fun night with an anti-hero whop doesn't give a fuck (mostly) and a couple of villains who *really* don't give a fuck (intensely).