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— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (2008) Dir. Lexi Alexander. Written by Nick Santora, Art Marcum, & Matt Holloway. Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Wayne Night, Doug Hutchison, and Dash Mihok.

Vengeance has a name. 

The fact that we've had the best possible actor to play Wolverine actually playing Wolverine for more than a decade and the studios are just now deciding to let the filmmakers do it right with Logan—when Hugh Jackman is supposedly done with the character—gives me blue balls like no one's business. The Punisher, on the other hand, has had the casting right in every damn iteration (Lundgren, Jane, Stevenson, Berenthal) but they only got the character and movie right once (shorts are another matter—see below)  and that was with this one; War Zone. Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me clarify, Thomas Jane is my favorite Frank Castle, but the movie is a middling disaster, Travolta included. Now Punisher proper and War Journal all had slightly different tones to War Zone which was the later series of the three and depicted Frank Castle as a full-blown psychopath. Appropriately, Ray Stevenson is a fucking monster in War Zone and the slasher movie approach to violence in this film paired with the ridiculous, carnivalesque villains of Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim are pitch perfect to the War Zone comics and I would argue key to navigating the slippery slope of the Punisher character. Kudos to the writers and director Lexi Alexander for sensing that about the material and avoiding painting an angry white man with guns as a hero to be idolized by idiots. It was a smart move and one I hope the Netflix team takes into account in the new series.

You don't need another rehash of the plot, just know this; Wayne Knight is, has always been and will always be the perfect Microchip. Dominic "McNutty" West is a shitload of fun as Jigsaw as is Hutchison as Loony Bin Jim and while the story, ending and acting by most of the other actors is strictly mediocre, this is how the Punisher has always existed in the imagination of War Zone fans. The fact that Hollywood released this and the audience wasn't there for it, that it was, in fact, DOA in theaters is a shame I lay at the feet of comic book nerds everywhere. Now while we wait for Netflix to drop the soap opera with guns version feast your eyes on this brilliant short film with Thomas Jane reprising his role as Frank Castle, probably for the last time, in what is the best on-screen rendition of the Punisher bar none. 

 

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