Punisher: War Zone (Review)

Punisher: War Zone, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Comic Book Movie
by Cody Clarke

Right off that bat, here’s five reasons to watch this:

1. Jimmy McNulty is the bad guy.
2. Horace Goodspeed is the bad guy’s sidekick.
3. Dexter’s wife is the girl.
4. Newman is the The Punisher’s sidekick.
5. Tim Calhoun’s face is The Punisher’s face.

Right now, every self-respecting fan of good television has opened a new tab in their browser and is adding this movie to their Netflix queue, regardless of whether or not the rest of my review positive, and it is– Punisher: War Zone is one of the best comic book movies ever made. Yeah, ‘that’ Punisher: War Zone. The one with a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t buy me a helmet just yet though, hear me out. I can and will back my statement up with valid reasons:

Valid Reason #1 None of that origin story bullshit.

I hate that so many superhero movies choose to do an origin story. Superhero origins tend to not make much sense, and devoting a first act or even a whole movie to them only exposes more holes. I understand that the intent is so we the viewer ‘care’ about the character, but we already ‘care’ about the character by default. The simple fact that the character does extraordinary things is attention-grabbing enough.

People buy comic books for the adventures, and most comic book movies are seriously lacking in the adventure department. Thankfully, this one isn’t. This feels like a self-contained comic book adventure. It doesn’t care about being a ‘movie.’ If you’re looking for engrossing characters and drama and situations you can understand and relate to, watch something else. If you wanna feel like you’re flipping colorful pages in the backseat on the way to Grandma’s house, watch this.

Valid Reason #2 – It actually looks like a comic book.

This is the best lit comic book movie ever made, hands down. It’s viciously dark when it needs to be dark, and brilliantly neon in a Dario Argento meets Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet kind of way when it needs to be colorful. There are several absolutely gorgeous master shots throughout the movie that showcase its beauty, but for the most part its pretty modest about it. It’s the gorgeous girl that doesn’t understand how gorgeous she is, which in turn makes her even more gorgeous.

Valid Reason #3 – Exciting and unexpected gore.

This movie is insane. The gore and action is silly, creative, and not the least bit derivative. For the first time in a long time, I had no idea what to expect in each and every action scene. It reminded me of watching a Stuart Gordon movie. That’s all I’ll say on it, because I want it to be unexpected for you as well.

Valid Reason #4 – It tries.

There are a lot of boring filler scenes in this movie that do not work, but in each and everyone of them, there’s something small to like. You can tell the director knew when a scene wasn’t working, but instead of throwing his hands in the air and moving on, got what he could out of the actors so at least a few lines were off-beat in an amusing way. That kind of attitude of ‘sure, I’m directing a piece of shit, but let’s make it the best piece of shit money can buy’ really impresses me.

Valid Reason #5 – No love.

There’s no love in this movie at all. Not a speck. Nothing. Just brutality and revenge. Action movies always fail when they try to insert love. It’s always forced and superficial and corny. A convoluted attempt to please the ‘female audience.’ This movie cares not for anyone who does not want exactly what this movie offers.

And so in conclusion:

This movie rocks. Watch it with people who appreciate genre movies, while sharing food that is bad for you. Laugh at stupid parts. Laugh at brilliant parts. Have a good fucking time.

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