The Punisher

Thomas Jane does a decent job as Frank Castle, a depressed alcoholic out to avenge the murder of his entire family at the hands of a crime lord (John Travolta). Too bad the film is ultimately unworthy of his fine work. While this latest comic-book adaptation has a strong and disturbing start, the tone goes haywire in the second half as Castle moves into a tenement building where he is befriended by wacky neighbors and a lonely waitress (Rebecca Romijn-Soon-To-Not-Be-Stamos). The film radically switches from dark and depressing to lame attempts at humor, and director Jonathan Hensleigh can’t handle the contrast. The movie feels like two different films, one being an OK revenge thriller, the other a bad television sitcom. Travolta does all right as the bad guy, keeping his screeching to a minimum. By the time the film ends, there’s a definite feeling that a sequel in the hands of a different director could work just fine, because Jane has created a decent character that just happens to be surrounded by a bad movie.

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