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THE PUNISHER

Another comic book blow-up posturing to be the next big action franchise, The Punisher is also a career launching pad for sculpted hunk Thomas Jane, whose biggest credits to date are playing Mickey Mantle in 61* and the intrepid shark handler in The Deep Blue Sea. But here, as former FBI agent Frank Castle, heís not given much to work with. Castle is a generic avenger plugged into a long, tiresome blood feud with Florida crime lord Howard Saint (an enjoyably over-the-top John Travolta), who blames Castle for the death of his son and in turn massacres Castleís family. Writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh spends an inordinate amount of time probing the meaning of revenge, to little effect, and his action scenes regurgitate Mad Max, Scarface, The Crow, and a Sergio Leone highlight reel. Castleís cartoonish battles with Saintís Bond-esque hitmen and his tenuous relationship with the trio of misfits (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos among them) who are his fellow tenants in a dilapidated warehouse are the filmís best moments. But for these few pleasures, you have to take your punishment. (124 minutes)


Issue Date: April 16 - 22, 2004
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