Punisher: War Zone

Movies Reviews Lexi Alexander
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Punisher: War Zone

Release Date: Dec. 5

Director: Lexi Alexander

Writers: Nick Santora and Art Marcum & Matt Halloway

Cinematographer: Steve Gainer

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Wayne Knight, Colin Salmon

Studio/Run Time: Lionsgate, 107 mins.

The main villain for Punisher: War Zone is nicknamed “Jigsaw” due to his face’s new appearance following an encounter with Frank Castle, aka The Punisher.His face is composed of a bunch of ugly strips of skin thrown together to create an even more hideous whole.It’s a particularly apt metaphor for the movie as well. Not only is Jigsaw's mangled exterior almost exactly the same as the origin for Batman’s Twoface, it’s also indicative of how the film itself is composed from many of the lousier parts of every movie War Zone wishes it could be.It’s a jigsaw puzzle, except none of the pieces fit together.To be just a little more blunt, the film is one long series of other movies’ clichés piled onto each other, one after the next.

Nominally a sequel to the 2004 film The Punisher, the film picks up where the last one left off by featuring a completely new cast, crew and, for the most part, continuity.Castle is now living in an underground, Batman-style base in the sewers and is being hunted equally by the police and criminals.If this sounds familiar to you, it means you weren’t living under a rock this past summer.He pops up occasionally to kill off entire mob families with impunity, eventually botching a job against Jigsaw and forcing a showdown between the two.

But plot isn’t really why anyone comes to a movie like this; it’s the action.If the comic-book side of the film is mostly a bad Batman knock-off, then the action sequences are a series of wannabe-John-Woo-setpieces.But director Lexi Alexander isn’t Woo (and even Woo’s not doing so great these days), so the gunfights are mostly a series of two-shots with Castle firing randomly in some direction, followed by a cut to that person being hit by a bullet.To make things interesting, the deaths are absurdly bloody to the point where it’s a borderline slasher film, but since these are within action sequences, the camera never focuses on them for more than a couple of frames.

And really that’s the film’s problem: It’s a little bit of everything, all done badly.It’s a bad procedural, a bad superhero movie, a bad shooter movie, a bad slasher movie.Add to this an almost complete lack of characterization, believable plot or realistic dialogue and you have one of the few non-direct-to-DVD films being produced these days that is laughably awful.