The Punisher: Extended Cut Jonathan Hensleigh

The Punisher: Extended Cut Jonathan Hensleigh
Seventeen minutes have been appended to this comic book action adaptation but if they have any appreciable impact, it’s to make a leaden movie that much duller. You all know Frank "the Punisher” Castle — the war vet whose family was murdered and he exacts violent yet delicious revenge — and Thomas Jane assays the role with sufficient credibility and gravitas. Alas, gravitas is all this movie has — though a standard action movie with a depraved villain (John Travolta) and a motive for nasty retribution, it keeps goosing you for importance that never really arrives. The Punisher doesn’t enjoy what he does, and you don’t either, and while this would be fine if it had something else going on, it’s really just a shoot-’em-up with a frown and a chip on its shoulder. Most squandered are his surrounding misfit supporters (motor mouth Dave Foster, childlike John Pinette, winsomely melancholy Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), who might have given interesting counterpoint to his fall from cop to vigilante but are mostly stick figures. Gunmetal grey all the way through, the movie is boring to look at, uninteresting to watch and clumsily structured despite being handled by Die Hard with a Vengeance scribe Jonathan Hensleigh. I believe critics at the time decried its darkness and intensity but it’s uncomfortable to watch chiefly because they suck out the fun. If you’re going to play the dark-and-brooding card you better have some ideas worth getting all serious about, and this movie doesn’t have them at any time. Extras include the Gulf War I opening that was dropped from the original script (and rendered here cheaply with digital mock-ups), a documentary on the changes to the original version and a gallery of Punisher art. (Alliance)