Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Punisher

I was never really a big Punisher fan.

It was not until Garth Ennis took over scripting duties with his excellent 'Welcome Back,Frank' storyline that I sat up and started to pay attention.

His take on N.Ireland and the Troubles sits well with me too; never preachy, bigoted or exploitative but rather a much more honest, even handed, insight... which for the most part is similar to my own views regarding the absolute senseless stupidity of it all.

Anyway, that's for another post.

Punisher War Zone.

Well again- I watched this as a freebie (thank Christ!) Actually don't be expecting a drawn out review- because in reality I scrolled through it, watching in effect about six minutes. Some of you may ask how can I have the -sheer audacity- to post a review based on six minutes of viewing time? I would respond "Quite easily: Sit the f**k down and pin back your ears muppet!"

I really enjoyed Ray Stevenson in the HBO series Rome and felt he could be a good Frank Castle. The brilliant Dominic West also stars as the villain Jigsaw (and well you know my feelings on The Wire)

From what I did watch, Dominic West has this awful heavy Brooklyn accent that made him sound like Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy- which is fine if your going for a comical take on the subject matter -this certainly wasn't! In fact that seems to be the main problem. It comes across as quite a mixed bag, not really sure of the direction it wanted to take; comic book broad-stroke, serious crime drama or a pastiche of both. This was also the problem of the previous movie.

Stevenson, seemed to play it pretty straight, trying to add some kind of reality to the proceedings, but his performance came across as quite flat.

The violence has your typical slow-mo, balletic over-staged and overplayed visual to it with no real substance or context.

To be honest I just lost interest. It was little more than white noise after a while and that's when I started to scroll.

I know, I know- it's a Punisher movie, it's not Ingmar Bergman. It's a guy that runs around with a giant skull emblazoned across his chest, but that's no reason why they can't give this character and his world a decent plot with a little more depth...and that brings me back to the Ennis Punisher.

Ennis did find the appropriate balance between the more comedic elements,level of violence and heart of the character. He made the world "real" or as real as a character who goes by the name of The Punisher can be. He knew when and how to play the very obvious 'tongue in cheek' humor and when we did have the excessive violence it came from somewhere;there was a reason for it! Yeah, of course at times he was going for the extreme visual or shock impact- but it always had context.

So I picked up his latest take aptly titled: Punisher War Zone. This is under the Marvel Knights Imprint and reteams him with his partner in crime Steve Dillon.

This was a much more satisfactory way to spend six minutes.

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