Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That - Punisher: War Zone

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Capturing the feel of a comic book accurately is really the goal of every comic book movie. The first
Punisher didn’t really do a good job at this, but they ended up making what is (in my opinion) a decent action movie. With Warzone, they did a much better job at capturing the dark, violent lunacy of the comic books, but it turns out that it looks really damn weird when translated to action on screen instead of stylized on the pages of a comic book.

You have Frank Castle, who’s next is as thick as a fire hydrant, killing dozens of nameless goons with an arsenal as large as the entire U.S. Army’s strapped to his body in his quest to take down “Jigsaw”, a villain who gets tossed into a glass bottle processor at the beginning of the movie, and as a result looks like an amateur’s attempt at cross-stitching for the first time.

The action is over-the-top, and barely stops once the movie has started. Frank is the titular Punisher, a literal personification of Death, but instead of wielding a scythe, he just has a bunch of guns (if only they in the shape of a scythe). The movie opens by Frank jumping into the middle of a table full of an old mafia family, and just murdering the shit out of them all. He stabs them, shoots them, snaps their necks with his feet, lops their heads off, and kills them with kitchen utensils in a practical fountain of geriatric gore.

Even if his opponents are feeble, elderly men and women, Frank Castle shows no quarter. He kicks the leg of a chair into a man’s eye socket to kill him, shoots a rocket launcher at a backflipping, parkour-running criminal as they flee across a rooftop, punches a man through his face, and kills enough people to populate a small village.

It just doesn’t care, and it revels in it. The climactic battle has him running through a building with an assault rifle and just gunning down scores or people, and it’s damn cool. There are no moral considerations, no shades of gray. Just really bad people who need to be shot, over and over again. It is by no means a good movie, but I had a lot of fun watching the absolute lunacy unfold in front of me in a way that we don’t normally get to see in a comic book movie.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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