PUNISHER: WAR ZONE
Excessive Ultra-Violence, Obscenity and Revenge
Release Date: December 05, 2008
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West,
Julie Benz, Colin Salmon, Doug
Hutchison, Dash Mihok, and
Genre: Crime Thriller
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Director: Lexi Alexander
Executive Producer: Oliver Hengst, Ernst-August
Schnieder, Ari Arad, Ogden
Gavanski, Michael Paseronek,
and John Sacchi
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
Writer: Nick Santora, Art Marcum and
Address Comments To:Jon Feltheimer, CEO
AKA Lions Gate Films
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 449-9200
Fax: (310) 255-3870
The Punisher is Frank Castle, a former policeman and Christian seminary student. Frank has become the Mafia’s nemesis after the mob murdered his wife and their two children. The cops in New York are sympathetic to his vigilante killings of murderous gangsters. In fact, the opening scene introduces viewers to two detective partners who both secretly help Frank without the other one knowing.
After killing an elderly Mafia kingpin, Frank goes after one of his mob lieutenants, Billy Russoti. During the battle at a warehouse, Frank leaves Russoti to die in a glass crusher and snags some of Russoti’s ill-gotten gains, but Russoti survives. Regrettably, Frank also accidentally kills an undercover FBI agent during the battle (the FBI had not alerted the local police about the assignment, so Frank’s police informants could not warn him).
Full of terrible remorse and guilt, Frank tries to set things right with the FBI agent’s widow and young daughter by giving them the mob money he collected. The widow refuses the money, however, and nearly shoots Frank in revenge. She can’t go through with killing Frank, however, even when Frank tells her that he won’t stop her.
Frank’s remorse over killing the FBI agent leads him to consider quitting, but the gangster Russoti goes after the widow because he thinks she has his mob money. He has even sprung his mad younger brother from the insane asylum to help him. Only the Punisher can save the widow and her daughter, but an FBI agent has arrested Frank for the death of the widow’s husband.
The story goes on from there, adding a couple more twists along the way. Eventually, Frank has to face a whole bunch of Asian, black and skinhead gang members to save the widow and her daughter from the vicious Russoti brothers.
Like many other crime thrillers, including modern Batman movies, especially the darker stories, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE takes place in a world where the moral, civil and criminal laws are no longer able to overcome the evil within the society. Thus, the hero must make up his own rules or personal code to cope with that evil and defeat it, even to the point of possibly violating some of the legal or moral laws. In one sense, the knight has become a pawn, but the pawn must exceed society’s limits in order to regain his status and defeat the evil dragons around him.
Despite stylish directing and entertaining performances, the new PUNISHER movie is filled with brutal violence and strong foul language. This shows a lack of creativity. Also, although the movie tries to be a morality tale of sorts and even contains some positive Christian content, it ultimately validates, or at least excuses, the protagonist’s brutal vigilante methods of fighting violent crime. The Punisher correctly recognizes that, by continuing to be a violent vigilante, he is opening himself up to losing his salvation or redemption. Even so, his methods, though they do save some lives, also violate the Bible’s injunctions to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21) and to eschew vengeance (Romans 12:19-21 and Deut. 32:35).
Despite stylish directing and entertaining performances, the new PUNISHER movie is filled with brutal violence and strong foul language. This shows a lack of creativity. Also, although the movie is a morality tale and even contains some overtly positive Christian content, it ultimately validates, or at least excuses, the protagonist’s brutal vigilante methods of fighting violent crime. The violence and foul language are just too excessive to tolerate.