This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Phil’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
Second reboot for this troublesome franchise and this time they finally get the casting right. Ray Stevenson is brought in as the main man and in my opinion he looks spot on for the role, kudos to the casting team.
As for the film well its a bit weak in plot really, very straight forward, very basic, how can I put this...its like Tim Burton's Batman accept replace the Joker with Jigsaw and add extreme violence. Sooooo bottom line I fudging like it baby! The origins are skipped for this entry which is good, we get flashbacks but that is acceptable, we don't need all the family massacre stuff again.
The film gets right into the action with easily the best sequence of the film. A mansion full of mob bosses and henchmen cannon fodder ripe for the Punisher to exterminate. This one sequence is a pure joy to watch for action aficionados, the lights go out and our antihero appears from nowhere, he then proceeds to gun down everyone in sight with a few neck snaps and knife kills thrown in.
From then on its into the traditional and dated yet still workable plot line of a particular mob boss getting horribly disfigured whilst at the same time thought to be dead, only to come back for revenge. So its pretty much the plot line for the Joker completely copied, well you could say the same thing for almost all the Batman villains really.
First impressions for the Punisher are good, his outfit has been changed and upgraded with some heavy military police style body armour including a thick collar section, a mass of highly top of the line weaponry and his skull logo remains intact emblazoned upon his chest piece. He pretty much looks like he's just stepped out of a SWAT armoury and its the perfect look in my view. Its up to date and would be a realistic take on what someone would wear if this were a real situation. The black leather biker look is gone, that's the more fantasy based look.
Twas amusing when Castle blasts a bad guys face off with a big shotgun whilst at the same time holding this little girl. If that doesn't mess her up later on in life nothing will.
The bad guy is also highly enjoyable played by Yorkshire born Sheffield lad Dominic West. I was very impressed with his Noo Yawk dialect (hard thing to achieve) and with the sadistic humour he gave to his character Jigsaw. I'm trying not to mention a certain Batman villain here but one does tend to think of him whilst watching this film. I mean lets be frank here (no pun intended), this could easily be a Batman flick if your replaced Castle with Wayne and Jigsaw with the Joker, I think we'd all like to see a really sadistic violent Joker.
The film can't quite keep up the pace for the full run time I gotta admit, the finale is a bit anti climatic. The whole idea is very cliched really, Jigsaw goes off to recruit lots of thugs from various quarters (Chinese, Irish and blinged up black gangsters), they all hole up in Jigsaw's hideout and await Castle. It all feels a bit Batman Forever-ish with all these different gangs, half expected the interior of Jigsaw's lair to light up in neon when the battle started.
So yes the whole idea for this film is pretty dated, its very cliche, very 80's, but I don't think that's a bad thing I really don't. I still can't quite understand why this flopped as its a fast paced, nasty gunfest with Castle kicking ass, what more do people want? For me this is the best version of the Punisher so far, dark, gritty, seedy...perfect graphic novel/comic book visuals.
Anyone else think West's performance as Jigsaw kinda looked and sounded like Al Pacino? seriously is that just me?? The more I think about it the more I think Pacino would have been great in that role, Castle vs Scarface.