Punisher: War Zone

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By Mark Ramsey | 2008/12/08

Ray Stevenson? What’s a Ray Stevenson? And why is he on a screen bigger than my car’s rear-view mirror (say what you will, but at least it’s widescreen)?.

Normally a character with a skull on his shirt is too busy flicking his lighter at the Judas Priest tribute band show to bother with fighting the kind of crime that doesn’t require an amp and a guitar.

The Punisher has a score to settle because his family was slaughtered at a picnic. “And the ants were bad, too,” said Stevenson as he strained his head, veins swelling, to squeeze out a tear.

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I had forgotten that there was a previous Punisher movie starring Thomas Jane. That’s the new thing nowadays, reboot the previous incarnation of the same story and hope the audience’s memory is as short as its attention span.

Then I heard this movie ranked eighth at the box office this weekend.

A new movie that ranks eighth?

They should have called it Marley & the Punisher – that would have at least moved it to fifth!

Well, at least eighth place put the punishment where it belongs.

In case you’re partying in Hollywood and wonder where all the bouncers have gone, look no further than the credits for Punisher: War Zone. This movie features nothing but dirtballs from one corner of the frame to the other.

We have the requisite big city Italian Mafia who seem to have learned their accents by having pizzas delivered to their Manhattan hotel from Brooklyn. We have approximately 100% of the cast dressed head to toe in black, as if they’re attending a funeral for Punisher’s box office prospects – and indeed they are.

In the opening sequence, an angry Punisher is suspended upside down from a chandelier as he spins in circles, both guns blaring. I don’t know about you, but if I were a bad guy I’d shoot that upside down idiot spinning in the center of the room.

Sadly, this confrontation forces the Punisher’s nose out of joint. Fortunately, he simply inserts a pencil into one nostril to force his nose back into place. “Imagine what I do when I’m constipated,” he says, reassuringly.

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Enter Wayne Knight, Newman from Seinfeld and the guy who’s responsible for freeing the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. “The only thing I’ve released since then is a lot of gas,” says Wayne, who brings to the Punisher something which the Soup Nazi and Jerry’s girlfriend with man-hands could not.

And whatever that is escapes me.

And there’s Julie Benz from Dexter, who only says “no” to a movie when a casting agent asks her if there’s anything she’d like to be doing besides being in one.

The only way you’ll see Julie at the Oscars this year is if they introduce catering.

So it falls to a character named “Jigsaw” and his brother, “Loony Bin Jim,” to kill the Punisher. It sounds like the two guys least likely to get the job done to me, but maybe if they trace the immense volume of hair gel the Punisher uses they can locate his lair and put him out of our misery.

The Punisher is full of the kind of fake emotional moments that fake masterpieces are almost made of.

Get your punishment elsewhere.

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