A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Punisher: War Zone

May 31, 2011

The Punisher: Warzone

I didn’t watch this movie before buying it (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you probably know this is a weakness of mine.) As we put it in tonight I was hoping this would not be as painful as yesterday’s film, and do you know what? It’s not. It’s glorious.

I spent a lot of time in yesterday’s review talking about how unrelentingly violent it was. Well this movie is proof that unrelenting violence and gore can actually be pretty damned awesome. From the very beginning when a big lumbering Frank Castle beheads an elderly Mafia don with a bowie knife and proceeds to stab, slice, dismember and shoot every member of the dinner party you know exactly what kind of movie this is. He hangs from a chandelier and spins around shooting everything. He kills a guy with a chair leg to the face. This is a wonderful, ridiculous gorefest and I loved every stupid minute of it.

Ray Stevenson is our Punisher tonight and he’s a treat. That opening scene at the Mafia dinner party really well sets the stage. This Punisher is a great hulking mountain of doom who spreads cartoon carnage everywhere he goes. I was really impressed by the fact that for the first twenty five minutes of the film he doesn’t have a single line. He just kills bad guys. Lots of them. Gruesomely.

It’s while he’s on one of his deadly rampages that he inadvertently starts the primary plot of the movie going. While indiscriminately wiping out some mob guys he accidentally kills an undercover FBI agent. This causes him considerable anguish. He’s not supposed to kill the good guys. All of this is demonstrated nicely by a still mute Castle as he watches the agent’s funeral from afar and then visits his own grave. It’s a strange contradiction that this big dumb action romp is better put together and better written than yesterday’s movie with its big name actor villain and gritty realistic feel.

In the same fracas Castle drops the nasty traitor from the 300 into a bottle recycling hopper where his face gets mutilated. “Pretty Boy” Billy Russoti doesn’t die though – he survives and becomes The Jigsaw. Jigsaw has two objectives in his new life. Get the money that the undercover FBI agent was supposed to be laundering for him (he assumes that the agent’s widow has it hidden in her house for some reason) and kill the Punisher. He springs his psychopathic brother “Loony Bin” Jim from the asylum and together they set about achieving these goals.

Meanwhile there’s another FBI agent, the ex-partner of the one Castle killed, who is bent on bringing the Punisher to justice (something that the NYPD don’t seem too concerned about getting done.) It’s not hard to guess that Agent Budiansky’s character arc is going to involve him learning to stop worrying and love the Punisher. Still, it’s fun to watch it happen.

There’s nothing particularly surprising or Earth shattering about the plot of this movie. That’s part of its charm, really. It’s a comfortable sort of familiar action film. The Jigsaw ultimately kidnaps the widow and her daughter and holds them, as well as the Punisher’s sidekick Micro, hostage in an abandoned hotel. He goes out and in a hilarious montage that spoofs the opening of Patton he gives a rousing speech to many of the local gangs that the Punisher has terrorised over the years and invites them all to the hotel to trap and kill the man himself. Of course the Punisher slaughters them to a man – it’s just that kind of movie.

There’s so much to enjoy about this film. The spewing blood and exploding skulls for example. (I actually cackled with delight at one point when the Punisher punched a bad guy in the face and crushed his skull like an egg – it’s not something you see coming and it’s hilarious.) Then there are the fantastic accents affected by Jigsaw, Loony Bin Jim and the parkour loving dreadlocked black Irish goon Maginty. (Hell, the very existence of Maginty in the first place makes me grin just thinking of it.) The accents are heavy, broad, liberally applied and hilarious.

This whole movie is a hilarious treat. It takes everything that made yesterday’s movie nasty and unbearable to watch and turns it on its head. Do I like this one better or the Dolph Lundgren one better? It’s so hard to say. One is a low budget eighties cheese fest, the other a gory over the top action movie romp. I will say that after watching this tonight I wanted more – I don’t know if anybody will care to get director Lexi Alexander (I want more of her movies now!) and Ray Stevenson back for a second go, but I’d be delighted if they did.

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May 31, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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