Movie Review: The Punisher
I hate people. I mean, I hate them a lot. It’s not that I only hate people who bring strollers on escalators or bring screaming kids to R-rated movies or stand in the middle of the god damned sidewalk and don’t move or pretend to be rapper gangsta wannabes and yell at each other at the tops of their lungs on the train so the whole car can hear about their bitches and how they’re going to become the next big gangsta rapper. I mean, I hate all of those people, but I also hate everyone. I hate people so much that I would see absolutely nothing wrong if some political official would give me diplomatic immunity, an extensive armory, unlimited ammunition, and full blessing to simply shoot dead anyone in my path I saw fit. In fact, at a time when the NYPD is looking at over $100 million dollars in cost cutting measures, I’m almost certain that if they gave me about a half million a year and blanket immunity, I could cut crime more than any after-school basketball program, simply based on my pure hatred for everyone. (Actually, one of my first experiments would be to start an after-school basketball program and kill everyone that shows up.)
Because of this, I decided I wasn’t going to go to any movies this year unless I was forced to. But then my favorite comic-book antihero was brought to the screen, and it looked like it would not suck, as pretty much every other movie about comic book heroes has. So I fought the crowds and idiots to the theater, got a ticket, and luckily got that one handicapped seat that’s front and center with no other seats around it so some dumb fuckhead wouldn’t show up ten minutes into the movie, kicking my shins and dumping popcorn everywhere and sit his sweaty, fat, unshowered ass right next to me.
The Punisher is, for those who don’t know, a character that appeared in Amazing Spiderman. Like pretty much everything that Stan Lee and his employees has ever done, The Punisher was wholly and completely ripped off from somebody else, in this case from Don Pendleton and the Mack Bolan series of books. Basically, the story is that a guy is a big-shot special forces, secret ops soldier who has his whole family killed by the mafia, and he avenges their deaths by going totally fucking medieval on the enemy with about twenty of every weapon known to man. Marvel beat the story to death and put all kinds of weird spins on it, but in the most basic sense, this guy Frank Castle is a normal human with no radioactive spider bites or radioactive gamma ray poisoning or radioactive ballsac creme or whatever else caused guys to grow third eyes or fire vision or any other powers which normally cause you to drop out of academics or a blue-collar career and consider superhero crimefighting as a day job.
Director Jonathan Hensleigh took his damn sweet time reeling out how much Frank loves his wife (played by the very porkable Samantha Mathis, who I last saw in American Psycho) and then destroying them. I was actually getting pretty bored during this part, but Hensleigh had to really build up that sappy emotional crap so Castle would have a good reason to finally go apeshit. And just to hedge any bets, he made sure to have every living relative on both sides of Frank’s family at a vacation dinner when the bad guys show up with guns.
The nemesis in the movie is Howard Saint, a mobster type played by John Travolta, who loses his son at the start of the film and decides to take it out on Frank Castle by erasing his entire family tree. This film confirms without a shadow of a doubt that John Travolta simply cannot act. At one point in his career (before he made Battlefield: Earth) Travolta earned $20,000,000 a picture, so it seems a bit odd that he’s working on a $33,000,000 action flick that’s not an artistic endeavor or an overt advertisement for Scientology. Anyway, he’s here, and he’s basically reading shit off of cards like he did in Broken Arrow, Face/Off, or Swordfish. But he’s always wearing a nice suit. And if you’ve been jerking it to Mulholland Drive, Laura Harring plays his wife. Unfortunately, her role does not require her to jump on a trampoline topless for fifteen minutes, so I would say her abilities as an actress were underutilized.
The film picks up when Castle starts his one-man war against Saint’s crime syndicate, and it had enough machine gun fire, explosions, knife fights, violence, and hand-to-hand combat to score almost an 8 on the Konrath 10-point scale of ultra-violence. Some of it was a bit hokey, like the fact that Claymore mines don’t explode like a high-explosive charge as pictured in a key scene (they shoot ball bearings in an arc from the front plate.) However, I was able to overlook this because of cool scenes like when he super-armed his house by hiding grenades and pistols under sinks and drawers, or when he decks out an old GTO with a full-on race engine and straight duals, plus shuttered armor plating on the windows and more hidden pistols inside. The movie is practically an instruction manual for going apeshit and making your house a fortified compound, but most of us who have been reading the comic for decades knew all this shit already.
And of course, Rebecca Romijn plays Frank Castle’s neighbor in his dumpy studio apartment. As you notice, I do not use the hyphenated S-word at the end of her name, because just a few days ago, she has split from the no-talent, phone commercial jerkoff. I don’t know the terms of her divorce, but I’m hoping it’s because she got that copy of Rumored to Exist I sent her, and she’s on her way over to my apartment right now to bear my children. I have to admit that I can’t speak much for her acting in this film, because every time she was on-screen, I was distracted with the lingering image of her in Victoria’s Secret french-cut panties, high heels, and nothing else, scrubbing my kitchen floor with sponge as I walk in the door after a long day of writing fiction and cashing checks from the large number of book sales our celebrity marriage has produced. “Oh honey, I’m so glad you’re home!” she says, throwing down the cleaning equipment. “I missed you so much while you were gone producing the best writing known in the world,” she says, throwing her arms around me. “I haven’t had sex with you in hours. Do you want to go to the bedroom, or can you just savagely fuck me from behind and pull my hair while I cook you dinner?” And so on.
The movie pulled in the wrong crowd for me, though, and what ultimately bugged me was the fact that people are so fucking stupid. The movie is about a guy who did RIGHT, who was a law enforcement official, and who was wronged by EVIL. And he ultimately decides that he must go above the law to avenge the death of his family. And when the voiceover of The Punisher in the final battle says something like “when laws don’t go far enough, sometimes you have to take things in your own hands,” and all of the fucked up whigger idiots in the audience are yelling “Hell yeah G!” The contradiction is that to most of these people The Punisher is a hero and what they want to be, because they live above the law in that they smoke a lot of pot and drink too much and steal car stereos to supply their cocaine habits. What I see as wrong is that these are the kind of people who I would kill if I was The Punisher. It’s simply inexcusable that this point was explained to the audience in the simplest form possible, yet everyone in the audience but me simply did not get it, and after this weekend, you will see dorks wearing Punisher skull shirts everywhere, acting like a bad-ass. Now, I haven’t gone all wacky and armed myself to the teeth, and to be serious, I haven’t decided to go out and kill people vigilante-style, because I have nothing to avenge. The fact that the dumb high school dropouts in my neighborhood spend all of their time smoking pot directly under my bedroom window and listening to bass-heavy violent rap on their shitty jambox is bad, but it’s not bad enough (yet) for me to start wiring up Claymore mines. To me, the punishment is that in twenty years, they’re going to be the fat men in undershirts walking around this neighborhood with nine kids and no money and still working a job unloading trucks even with a bad back that they can’t get fixed because they have no health insurance, and they will ultimately die in the same apartment they were born in. That might not be as spectacular as shoving a big-ass Rambo knife through someone’s heart, but it takes a lot less effort on my part, and I won’t end up in prison.
Anyway, good movie. Not great, but worth watching.