When I first encountered both the trailers to Max Payne and Punisher: War Zone, I found the early opinionated advantage in favor of Max Payne > Punisher: War Zone. When the time came for both to have seen the light of day, the result shockingly became vice versa. Punisher: War Zone perfectly captured the comic art direction and sealed The Punisher as a bad ass vigilante and not some priss with his shirt tucked in. My familiarization with the Punisher character was a journey through various War Journals and film adaptations, ranging from decent to pugnacious.
The Punisher was outfitted as a clown but is back with a vengeance. This film should carry surnames as "This Time it's Personal" or "The Revenge". The appeasement of the audience by way of promotional trailers was most unsavory. A man with slick hair and a Kevlar turtleneck with many slow motion shots condensed in a 2 minute trailer can only do so much without making the whole concept seem as an esoteric shout out to some Hollywood buds.
Ever so fitting to your needs, War Zone accommodates the Punisher fan in you, and if you're not a fan of the Punisher, then the violence will suit you just fine. The depicted brutality rivals the latest Rambo installment on terms of decapitations, explosions, and visceral close-up shotgun fatalities. The comic thematics are insinuated in the last 20 minutes giving the anti-freedom fighter sufficiently more space to maneuver in.
Ray Stevenson perfects the film as the remorseless serial murdering vigilante. Stevenson's performance is the icing on the cake, so to speak. With his actions come a layer of unspoken sorrow and incendiary black humor. The device of his departed family isn't abstrusely forced into some whiny flashback. Rather, we collect our thoughts on his daughter's old musical box. There's no scenes of Stevenson asking the villains to "put the bunny down" or any of that nonsense. On terms of bloodshed, Punisher: War Zone is nearly unmatched by any Hollywood production. This is near as sadistic as action cinema comes. At least until Rambo 5 is released.
If Frank Castle indulged a single craving, it would most certainly be the over-the-top, yet excessive deaths of degenerate filth. We witness the fruitful executions of parkour-wannabe gangsta thugs getting shot in the head and exploded with miniature propelled rockets, senile mothers with their head blown in half, and sleazy Gino's biting the dust. All this, backed with throbbing humor and intense fluorescents. This is just one of few films that can sport a heavy metal soundtrack just right.
It doesn't choose to go into the exploitation zone near as much as the overkill explored in Feast II: Sloppy Seconds (Which featured midget wrestlers with foot-long dicks), but just enough to leave a visual impression rather than heaving felt as you witnessed a sideshow. Perhaps one of the greatest looking films of the year, Punisher: War Zone was made for the theater viewing experience. This film cannot come any more recommended.