Tag Archives: The Punisher

A Week In Film #356: Doubles

The Punisher (2004) title screen
The Punisher (2004)
Thomas Jane as revenge-oriented Marvel costumed nut job Frank Castle. A decent enough fist, but not really psycho enough. Jonathan Hensleigh’s directorial debut after various blockbuster scripts (Die Hard With A Vengeance, Armageddon); he later directed the next Frank Castle, Ray Stevenson, in 2011’s Kill The Irishman.

No Country For Old Men title screen
No Country For Old Men
The Coen Brothers’ Cormac McCarthy adaptation is engaging enough, but it didn’t really astonish me. Feels a bit of a retread of Blood Simple. Josh Brolin makes a good fist of the rubbish protagonist.

A Week In Film #031: Never talk politics with the in-laws after a day of drinking

Man With The Screaming Brain title screen

Man With The Screaming Brain
Bruce Campbell writes, directs and stars, as an American businessman in Bulgaria (cheap to film there, apparently) who is killed by a treacherous Gypsy woman, before being brought back to life by loony doctor Stacy Keach, who bulks up Campbell’s broken brain with bits cut out of the ex-KGB taxi driver who is also the former boyfriend of our Romani assailant. Could have been better, but points for effort, though possibly not for services to settled/traveller relations.

The Punisher (1989) title screen

The Punisher (1989)
Very silly adaptation of the dark Marvel comic about Nam vet Frank Castle who turns vigilante after his family is executed by the Mafia. Here Castle is changed to a cop, and he is played by Dolphin Lundgren. It is silly. Very violent, with some rubbish and occasionally dull action scenes, but at least it doesn’t take itself seriously.

Punisher: War Zone title screen

Punisher: War Zone
Charmless reboot of the 2004 reboot of the 1989 flick. Ray Stephenson is now Frank Castle, and yet despite not being a stranger to acting, ends up with little to do other than brutally execute anyone who steps in his way, with a moody expression on his fizzog. Directed by that Lexi Alexander, with the same skill and delicacy she applied to Green Street.

Canadian Bacon title screen

Canadian Bacon
Hamfisted (LOL) Michael Moore black comedy (shamelessly stealing from Dr Strangelove) about a lameduck US President who conjures up an imaginary threat from Canada. John Candy is great though. Prefigures the superior Wag The Dog, though the premise is wittier.

One Crazy Summer title screen

One Crazy Summer
Minor 80s teen comedy with John Cusack the wannabe animator on vacation before college. Harmless fun, pleasant performances.

The Whole Nine Yards title screen

The Whole Nine Yards
Him from Friends as a neurotic dentist, him from Die Hard as a mob hitman who moves next door. Fun, but inconsequential. Director Jonathan Lynn definitely has a thing about women smoking cigarettes – Rosanna Arquette, Natasha Henstridge.

The Whole Ten Yards title screen

The Whole Ten Yards
Somewhat pointless sequel, whose principal purpose appears to be to give Kevin Pollak – the Hungarian crime boss who didn’t survive the first film – the chance to work out as his character’s own father. Howard Deutch fumbles the direction.

The Deal (2008) title screen

The Deal (2008)
William H Macy as a past-his-prime Hollywood producer who sees one last chance when his talented but naîve nephew turns up on his doorstep with Bill And Ben, a sensitive script about Benjamin D’Israeli’s relationship with WIlliam Gladstone. Naturally this one last chance involves tweaking it into Ben Disraeli: Freedom Fighter, a guns ‘n’ girls blockbuster with recently converted action star Bobby Mason (LL Cool J) in the starring role. Silly and derivative (and the whole WHM/Meg Ryan romance is a bit meh), but warm and cosy.

The Keep title screen

The Keep
Michael Mann does supernatural war movie – Jürgen Prochnow is an honourable Wehrmacht officer, Gabriel Byrne is a comedy BOO! HISS! black uniformed SS rotter, Ian McKellen is a wheelchair-bound Jewish academic, Alberta Watson is his daughter, Scott Glenn is a shiny-eyed mysterious stranger, and they’re all stuck in a magic castle in WW2 Romania with a scary Golem-type monster. Tangerine Dream supplies the music, and it’s all a bit silly.

The Bourne Identity title screen

The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum holiday bricks rarely entertain once adapted for the screen (The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant), but Doug Go Liman’s reboot (after the 80s version which had Dr Kildare in the lead) makes a meaty fist of challenging yer Bond as preeminent movie spook.

Matt Damon is an excellent against-type casting choice, and he develops an excellent rapport with the flaky German wanderer he latches onto, played by Franke Potente.

The fight-in-a-room (or park, or field) sequences – notably the Swiss ones, and one in the Paris apartment – are for the most part exemplary, though Liman has more trouble with the car chase. In terms of action and tension it is very effective.

Casting is a little more mixed: Brian Cox is superb as a creepy CIA chieftain, but Julia Stiles? How did she end up in a frontline role in the Company? And you can’t help but chuckle at Adebisi from Oz hamming it up, or the shitkicker from The Shield being all whitecollar and shit. But mostly it’s a breezy, exciting ride.

A few queries though: do all Italian trawlers have as well packed a medical kit as here? And how did Bourne make it from France into Switzerland – Switzerland, FFS, Switzerland!! – without papers?

A Week In Film #030: B movies, D-Days & K holes

The Verdict (1946) title screen

The Verdict (1946)
Don Siegel’s first full directing credit, IIRC. A dark hearted and dark humoured affair, this – Sidney Greenstreet is a Scotland Yard detective eased out by an ambitious younger rival, who proves that a man he sent to the gallows was in fact an innocent. Assisted by amiable lush and friend Peter Lorre, Greenstreet vows to exact his revenge…

Meet The Parents title screen

Meet The Parents
Ben Stiller tries to impress Robert De Niro, the uptight father of the girlfriend he wants to marry, but mostly he fucks up. Things pan out pretty much as you would expect.

Meet The Fockers title screen

Meet The Fockers
Sequel to the above in which OMG his name is Gaylord Focker LULZ! Hollywood liberals Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand play Florida liberals, and everyone is happy by picture’s end.

Recount title screen

HBO TVM about the Florida voting scandal of the 2000 Presidential elections which led to the administration of Bush The Lesser; well liberal. Familiar faces include: Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt and Laura Dern being very funny as Katherine Harris.

Men At Work title screen

Men At Work
Emilio Estevez writes and directs himself and his brother Charlie Sheen as a pair of under-achieving garbagemen who get caught up in a toxic dumping/murder plot. It’s not great but it’s watchable. John Getz (the hapless boyfriend from Blood Simple) makes for a fun bad guy, and Keith David is superb as a Nam vet still suffering flashbacks.

Outpost title screen

A motley crew of mercenaries escort a mysterious businessman to an old, abandoned bunker complex in the middle of an Eastern European civil war.

Again, supernatural war horror (cf Below, The Bunker, Deathwatch, The Keep), again, some good bits diluted by generally being sub-par in various departments (script needs tightening; better direction of the actors; more thoughtful lighting; more rhythmical editing; and much better visual effects, if you really insis on having them in the first place; etc).

Bit odd seeing Michael ‘Tyres from Spaced‘ Smiley in there as an Irish dog of war…

The Bridge At Remagen title screen

The Bridge At Remagen
A frankly rather unexciting war film, with Robert Vaughn as a German officer charged with blowing up a bridge over the Rhine in the dying weeks of WW2, as an American unit led by George Segal is given the order to preserve the bridge at all costs. Ben Gazzara as a lootin’, shootin’, but never high-falutin’ GI is one of the few pieces of interest here.

The Punisher (2004) title screen

The Punisher (2004)
Thomas Jane (from Stander) as Marvel Comics vigilante Frank Castle, taking on a mob run by John Travolta. The bits with the hired assassins were quite good, and the massacre of Castle’s family early on, but it’s just a little too draggy. I’m going to watch the 1989 version and then the 2008 reboot War Journal to compare.

Shaun Of The Dead title screen

Shaun Of The Dead
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, bit parts and cameos for Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin – it’s a veritable Spaced reunion! And the funniest zombie film ever.

“Get fucked four-eyes!”, Pegg teaming up with Kate Ashfield and Bill Nighy from Guest House Paradiso, ‘Hog Lumps’, “it’s on random”, children’s slides, “‘Allo, Fulci’s…”, death-by-jukebox – loads of good stuff. Oooh, and Noel the gum-chewing teen worker at Foree Electric.