When an illegal arms deal results in a sting operation by the FBI and the unpredicted death of a powerful corrupt businessman’s son. Former U.S. Army Delta Force operator and now retired undercover FBI agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) thinks his days of violence and action are over and can now return to his family. However money launderer Tampa crime boss and villain Howard Saint (John Travolta) infuriated by the death of his youngest son orders a hit on not only Castle but his entire family to "settle the score". A family reunion at Castle’s father's seaside home in Aguadilla Bay, Puerto Rico ends in bloodshed. After cheating death Frank Castle is no more, he is now the vigilante assassin The Punisher. Now out of the shadows, Castle unleashes a vengeful barrage of destruction to the man that killed his family.
Director Jonathan Hensleigh takes the Marvel Comic to the big screen with only a $33 million budget from the studio when most action movies get higher budget of $64 million. With only fifty five days of filming and most of the tight budget going on an even tighter shooting schedule, after some rewrites to the script I’m surprised that this comic book vigilante film managed to pull it off. It certainly is not on the list of best films based on Marvel Comics, however it definitely is not worse than Sam Raimi‘s Spider 3 (2007). From comic book to film, Punisher is your typical action film of a hero out for revenge but discovers that his second chance was not gift for vengeance but a greater purpose. In situations when the law is inadequate and fails to provide justice, it is his obligation to act outside the law. That those who harm others will soon learn fear and be punished, by The Punisher.
Thomas Jane convincingly does portray our hard bodied vigilante well and brings the printed hero alive from the Marvel pages to the cinema screen. However it was no surprise that the villain Travolta took the spotlight. After his role as Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) that revitalized his career and his performance as the psychotic maniac villain Castor Troy in John Woo’s Face/Off (1997) it is nice to see him play a brutally cold and straightforward gangster. His menacing stone cold face with often bursts of rage gives a very believable performance of a convincing mobster. Unfortunately, even with such a good hero and an even better villain the final showdown between Jane and Travolta was pretty disappointingly quick and somewhat uneventful; considering the fact that it was the last boss fight. However the viciously raw fight scene between Castle and a big blonde brute named “The Russian” is definitely eventful. For a Marvel Comic to Marvel film, the final verdict would be that The Punisher is a low budget average action revenge film but is carried by a good performance by both hero and villain