Punisher: War Zone cannot be adequately described as "over the top"--it's a relentless catalogue of brutal mayhem punctuated, here and there, with outrageous sentimentality. Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher (Ray Stevenson, Rome) has dedicated his life to killing the kind of gangsters who murdered his family. But when he unknowingly kills an undercover FBI agent, Castle falls into a crisis of conscience and decides to lay down his guns. Unfortunately, one of the last gangsters he thought he'd killed survived, albeit horribly disfigured, and seeks revenge on the wife and daughter of that slain FBI agent--so Castle has to go one last spree of vigilante justice! But this plot summary will not prepare you for the jolting violence of Punisher: War Zone
; rarely do more than a few minutes go by without startling physical savagery, particularly to people's heads, which get blown apart with numbing frequency. This violence somehow goes hand in hand with dizzyingly saccharine moments when a young girl gazes at Castle with trusting eyes, knowing in her heart that he's the only one who can protect her. The dialogue goes beyond cliche into tough guy baroque. Stevenson underplays Castle to good effect, because everyone else in the movie--including Dominic West (The Wire
), Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile
), and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld
)--chews the scenery like it's slathered with gravy. Some viewers will find this movie revolting; others will worship it like a golden calf. You probably know where you stand. --Bret Fetzer
Waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle sets his sights on overeager mob boss, Billy Russoti. After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the "Punisher Task Force" hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Frank must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished.