Punisher: War Zone

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For the comic book, see The Punisher War Zone.
Punisher: War Zone
Punisherwarzoneteaser.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Lexi Alexander
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Written by Nick Santora
Matt Holloway
Arthur Marcum
Based on The Punisher 
by Gerry Conway
Ross Andru
John Romita, Sr.
Starring Ray Stevenson
Dominic West
Julie Benz
Colin Salmon
Doug Hutchison
Dash Mihok
Wayne Knight
Music by Michael Wandmacher
Cinematography Steve Gainer
Edited by William Yeh
Dean Zimmerman
Production
  company
Marvel Knights
Valhalla Motion Pictures
MHF Zweite Academy Film
SGF Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s)
  • December 5, 2008 (2008-12-05)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Germany
Language English
Budget $35 million[1]
Box office $10,100,036[1]

Punisher: War Zone is a 2008 comic book action film directed by Lexi Alexander; based on the fictional Marvel Comics vigilante/anti-hero the Punisher. It is the third film to depict the Marvel character Frank Castle (the Punisher). The film is a reboot that follows the original telling of Castle's war on crime and corruption rather than a sequel to 2004's The Punisher[2] and is the first film to be produced under the Marvel Studios and Marvel Knights production banner, which focuses on films for mature audiences. Irish actor Ray Stevenson replaced Thomas Jane as Castle. In the film, Castle wages a one-man war against a horribly disfigured mob boss known as Jigsaw (Dominic West). Punisher: War Zone was released in North America by Lionsgate on December 5, 2008, and was released in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2009.

Plot [edit]

Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson), who by now has been the Punisher for five years, assaults a party for mob boss Gaitano Cesare. Billy Russoti (Dominic West) escapes to his recycling plant hideout, and Detectives Martin Soap (Dash Mihok) and Saffiotti (Tony Calabretta), who were staking out the party, inform Castle. Castle infiltrates Russoti's hideout, and after a brief firefight, Russoti is thrown into a glass-crushing machine that leaves him hideously disfigured. Russoti later refers to himself as "Jigsaw" because the stitches in his face resemble puzzle pieces. Castle, who takes cover behind the body of Nicky Donatelli (Romano Orzari), discovers that Donatelli was actually an undercover agent.

Agent Paul Budiansky (Colin Salmon), the deceased agent's partner, joins the NYPD's "Punisher Task Force", partnering with Soap to help bring Castle to justice. Meanwhile, Jigsaw frees his deranged and cannibalistic brother, "Loony Bin Jim" (Doug Hutchison).

Distraught over killing the agent, Castle attempts to make reparations to Donatelli's wife, Angela (Julie Benz), and daughter, Grace (Stephanie Janusauskas), to no avail. Castle threatens to retire from the vigilante business, but his armorer, Microchip (Wayne Knight), forces him to reconsider, telling him Jigsaw will go after Donatelli's family for revenge.

Jigsaw, Loony Bin Jim, and two goons, Ink and Pittsy, break into Donatelli's house and hold the family hostage. The Punisher tracks down Maginty (T. J. Storm) a known associate of Jigsaw, executing him after extracting the information before being apprehended by Budiansky and Soap. Castle tells him Jigsaw went after Donatelli's family, and Budiansky sends a police car to check on the Donatelli house, intending to turn the Punisher in. When the patrol car fails to respond, Budiansky checks on the house, where he is captured by Ink and Pittsy. Soap frees the Punisher, who kills Ink and Pittsy before leading Donatelli's wife and daughter away. Budiansky then arrests Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim after a short gun fight.

Jigsaw and his brother bargain with the FBI for their release by giving up Cristu Bulat (David Vadim), who was smuggling in a biological weapon destined for Arab terrorists in Queens, New York. The brothers are granted immunity, plus the US$12 million Bulat was paying to use Jigsaw's port, and a file on Micro. They take Micro hostage, killing his mother in the process. They once again take the Donatellis hostage, after critically injuring Micro's associate Carlos, whom Castle had left to protect them. Castle later arrives at the hideout, and euthanizes Carlos. Jigsaw sets himself up in the Bradstreet Hotel, putting together a small army of gangsters who want to see the Punisher dead. Castle enlists the help of Budiansky, who informs Cristu's father, Tiberiu Bulat (Aubert Pallascio), where Jigsaw is located. Tiberiu's goons start a shootout in the hotel lobby, affording Castle a distraction.

Castle enters through a second-floor window, leading to a firefight with Jigsaw's hired guns. Afterward, Castle engages Loony Bin Jim in hand-to-hand combat; outmatched by his brute speed and agility, but eventually gets his upper hand. Realizing he will probably not survive the brawl, Jim runs away. Castle chases him and confronts both him and Jigsaw, who are holding Micro and Grace Donatelli at gunpoint. Jigsaw gives Castle a choice: If Frank shoots Micro, Jigsaw will let the others go free. Micro bravely offers his life to save the girl, but Castle chooses to shoot Loony Bin Jim instead. As a result, Jigsaw kills Micro. Enraged by the loss of his partner, Castle attacks Jigsaw, eventually impaling him with a metal rod and throwing him onto a fire. As Jigsaw burns to death, Castle calmly tells him, "This is just the beginning." Outside, Angela forgives Castle, who bids farewell to Budiansky and the Donatelli family. As Castle and Soap leave together, Soap tries to convince Castle to give up his vigilante status after having "killed every criminal in town." Soap however changes his mind when he is held up by a murderous mugger who quickly becomes another victim of the Punisher.

Cast[edit]

Development[edit]

2004[edit]

In February 2004, two months prior to The Punisher's theatrical debut, Lions Gate Entertainment announced the studio's intent to produce a sequel. Avi Arad, chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, expressed his interest in developing the franchise, saying that the second film would "become the fifth Marvel property to become a sequel."[3] In March, the director of the first film, Jonathan Hensleigh, said that he was interested in working with Thomas Jane again for The Punisher 2.[4] In April, Jane said that the villain for The Punisher 2 would be Jigsaw.[5] In November, Jane said that the studio was interested in making a sequel based on successful DVD sales of The Punisher and was developing the preliminary budget for the follow-up.[6]

2005[edit]

In March 2005, Marvel Studios announced a 2006 theatrical release date for The Punisher 2.[7] In April, Lions Gate Entertainment's CEO, Jon Feltheimer, confirmed at LGF's 2005 fiscal third quarter analyst call that the studio had completed its deal to develop The Punisher 2.[8] Prior to July, Arad revealed that the script was being rewritten and that the sequel would start filming within the year.[9] By July, Jane had put on an additional 12 pounds of muscle, and was hoping for filming to start in late-2006.[10]

2006[edit]

In March 2006, The Punisher 2 was announced to be produced in Louisiana,[11] being listed in the domestic charter under Louisiana's Secretary of State.[12] In August, Marvel Entertainment revealed a new film slate that included The Punisher 2 on its partial list with production still to be determined.[13] Thomas Jane said that the writer was halfway through a draft and that he believed filming would begin by February 2007. Jane confirmed that the villain Jigsaw, first announced in April 2004, would be in the film. Jane also said that director Jonathan Hensleigh would not be returning to direct the sequel.[14] In addition, Lions Gate Entertainment, amidst the studios returning to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, announced that The Punisher 2 would begin filming within the year.[15] In October, Thomas Jane said the script was due in a couple of weeks, and that it would be "darker, bloodier and more unfriendly than the first one."[16] In December, the screenplay was being rewritten by screenwriter Stuart Beattie.[17]

2007[edit]

It was announced that Kurt Sutter, a writer for The Shield, was involved with the script for The Punisher 2. Sutter said that he had an enjoyable time writing the script for the sequel and that it was going to be very true to the character.[18] In a separate interview, Thomas Jane revealed that a new script had been turned in and everyone was hoping it would work out, as the lack of a good script had been holding up production. He further stated that if everything goes as planned then filming should begin in June or July,[19] but shortly afterward, in a letter to Ain't It Cool News, Jane wrote that he had pulled out of the movie, stating:

"What I won't do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don't believe in. I've always loved the Marvel guys, and wish them well. Meanwhile, I'll continue to search for a film that one day might stand with all those films that the fans have asked me to watch."[20][21]

In May 2007, director John Dahl was in talks to direct the movie, but decided not to helm the film, citing a bad script and lack of budget as reasons for passing.[22] In June, it was announced that Lexi Alexander would then take over the role as director as a result.[23] In a December 2008 interview, Alexander revealed that when she first got the Punisher 2 script she passed on the project, but later changed her mind after reading the MAX adult Punisher comics, and getting assurances from Lionsgate that she could give the project a new look and feel – and cast a new actor in the central role of the Punisher.[24]

On July 21, it was announced that actor Ray Stevenson would play the Punisher in the sequel to the 2004 film.[25] Filming was slated to begin in October 2007 in Montreal.[26] Prior to filming, Stevenson read every possible issue of The Punisher MAX, underwent endurance, martial arts, and weapons training with former Force Recon Marines and film fight choreographer Pat Johnson.[27][28][29] In August, a working title for the film, The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank, was announced. On August 28, Lionsgate announced that the new working name for The Punisher 2 would be Punisher: War Zone.[30] In mid-September, the director announced cast members joining Stevenson with Dash Mihok as Detective Martin Soap, Colin Salmon as Agent Paul Budiansky, and Doug Hutchison as Loony Bin Jim. It was announced on September 25 via The Hollywood Reporter that Dominic West will star as the main antagonist, Jigsaw, and Wayne Knight will play the Punisher's armorer, Microchip. Paddy Considine was considered for the role of Jigsaw in the film, but the offer was retracted and given to West who had previously turned it down.[31] Freddie Prinze Jr. also auditioned for the role, but was refused by Lionsgate Studios from accepting the part.[32] Filming occurred from October 22 until December 14 in Montreal.[33] Principal photography for Punisher: War Zone was completed on December 27.[34]

2008[edit]

On February 14, 2008, writer Kurt Sutter officially removed his name from credit arbitration, stating:

"I took my name off the movie for a few reasons. The obvious reason is because I didn't deserve credit. There was very little of my draft that stayed in the shooting script. The one big one they kept, was the set piece where we see how Russo becomes Jigsaw. It's pretty brutal. Glad they kept that."[35]

The film was set for a September 12, 2008, release, but was pushed back three months to December 5, 2008.[36] A teaser trailer was released on June 12, 2008. On July 25, Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News wrote an article claiming that Lexi Alexander had been removed as the film's director.[37] A second trailer was revealed to the public at the San Diego ComicCon on the same day. Alexander did not make an appearance at the convention, which caused speculation from the fans who attended the film's panel to question whether or not her name had been taken off the film. On August 15, website Latino Review reported that Lionsgate would be editing the film to receive a PG-13 rating. The director of photography, Steve Gainer, later claimed that the movie will be "R" and that Alexander is still on board the project.[38] On October 3, IGN confirmed that Alexander was not fired from the movie, based on an official statement they received from Lionsgate.[39] In a December 2008 interview,[24] Alexander confirmed that she had had serious battles with Lionsgate, but denied that she was ever officially off the movie. "My name was never off, nor would I want it taken off, nor did I ever get a pink slip. The truth is that we had probably the same discussions that any other film has." Despite the much publicized discourse, Alexander says she is "extremely happy" with the final film:

"It came at a price, I would say, but I made the film I wanted on the screen. I think personally, in my opinion, it would have been very dangerous to put a compromise on the screen for my own career and for the promises I made to these actors who I talked into joining the film. I don't really care that it was an uphill battle; I'm glad with what's on the screen."[24]

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend, Punisher: War Zone grossed $4 million in 2,508 theaters in the United States, ranking #8 at the box office.[40] The film grossed $8,050,977 domestically, making Punisher: War Zone the lowest grossing film based on a Marvel Comics property, below Elektra and Howard the Duck.[41] It also grossed $2,049,059 internationally, bringing it to $10,100,036 worldwide, making it a box office flop comparing to its $35 million budget.[1]

Reception[edit]

Punisher: War Zone received negative reviews from film critics. On the film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 26% approval rating, based on 99 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3/10. The consensus is that "War Zone recalls the excessively violent, dialogue-challenged actioners of the 1980s, and coincidentally feels two decades out of date."[42] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 2 out of 4 stars, writing, "You used to be able to depend on a terrible film being poorly made. No longer. The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I've seen." And that the film's only flaw is "that it's disgusting."[43] Clark Collis writes that Ray Stevenson's "character could be called the Not-Much-of-a-Learning Curveinator."[44] Frank Dasta of RobotBoombox.com gave the movie 0 out of 5 stars, stating "May God have mercy on this film's soul. Punisher: Warzone is bland, uninspired, and it missed the point of the source material entirely. It's like these people have never even read a proper Punisher comic."[45]

Felix Vasquez of Cinema Crazed, who loved the previous film version, gave Punisher: War Zone a positive review, claiming "War Zone is a better film."[46] Edward Porter of the UK The Sunday Times gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, writing, "Earning an 18 certificate with its violence, the film is kids’ stuff in all other respects: over-the-top shootouts, monstrous and barking-mad villains, a bumbling sidekick and so on. Highly enjoyable tosh."[47] Victor Olliver of Teletext wrote, "This is as true to a Marvel comic tale as I've ever seen - gory, serious, intense, dark and utterly psychotic."[48] Movie reporter Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a positive review, writing that it is the "best Punisher movie by far. The action is satisfying and the dark story is close to the tone of its Marvel Comics source material."[49]

Despite negative reviews from critics, Punisher: War Zone managed to develop a Cult following. Comedian Patton Oswalt has been a vocal supporter of the film since its release, calling it "THE BEST time I've had at the movies this year."[50] In October 2011, Oswalt hosted a screening of the film in Los Angeles with director Lexi Alexander, and the two discussed the film in episode 20 of Paul Scheer's podcast "How Did This Get Made?"[51]

Video game[edit]

A tie-in PS3 video game, which shares fonts and models from the film, was released on July 2, 2009, via PSN.

Home media [edit]

Punisher: War Zone was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray on March 17, 2009. It was released on two different versions, a 2-disc special edition with a digital copy, and a standard version featuring both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. DVD sales for the film in North America (as of March 2010) was $10,454,076 in revenue from 576,151 units sold.[52][53] In total, Punisher: War Zone has made $20,543,449 in box office and DVD sales, and while there are no figures yet for how much it made in DVD sales internationally, which could add to the overall figure, it is still significantly lower than the $115M amount 2004's Punisher movie made from box office and DVD sales.

Music[edit]

Punisher: War Zone Original Motion Picture Score
Soundtrack album by Michael Wandmacher
Released December 14, 2008
Genre Orchestral
Length 46:18
Label Lionsgate Records
Marvel Comics film series soundtrack chronology
Punisher: War Zone Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2008)
Punisher: War Zone Original Motion Picture Score
(2008)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Soundtrack
(2009)

An original score to the film was composed by Michael Wandmacher. Wandmacher's primary focus in making the score was to "create a definitive musical identity for the Punisher. I knew I needed something dark, relentless and muscular, but I also couldn't forget Frank's humanity, his personal torment and deep sadness. So, I approached the job equally as a fan and as a composer." In order to make the character of Frank Castle seem less one dimensional, Wandmacher decided to include snare cadences and powerful, dynamic ostinatos and slowly rising string repetitions to mimic a relentless entity, like an approaching battalion.[54]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Michael Wandmacher. 

No. Title Length
1. "Main Titles"   3:03
2. "Lights On!"   1:10
3. "The Burden"   2:16
4. "Rich in Mercy"   1:05
5. "Death of the Loved"   1:25
6. "Infiltrate and Destroy"   2:49
7. "This Is Ground Zero"   2:10
8. "A Pretty Face"   2:21
9. "The Russians"   3:10
10. "A Call to Arms"   1:16
11. "Safe Harbor"   1:26
12. "A Wish for Death"   2:53
13. "Freeze!"   1:09
14. "Two Berettas"   2:00
15. "I Want My Applesauce Back"   2:37
16. "Held Hostage"   3:19
17. "Joyful Mayhem"   2:55
18. "Let the Games Begin"   4:24
19. "LBJ"   1:46
20. "Let Me Put You Out of Your Misery"   4:11
21. "Aftermath"   1:33
Total length:
46:18

Reboot[edit]

At the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said that the rights to the character had reverted to Marvel, who were interested in some form of television or film adaptation.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Punisher: War Zone at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2011-07-11.
  2. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (December 6, 2007). "Interview: Lexi Alexander". IGN. Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2008-12-01. "[Alexander:] I would say it's a complete reboot because the first one—neither of them—are relevant to us at all." 
  3. ^ Morris, Clint (February 27, 2004). "Lions Gate starting on The Punisher 2". Moviehole.net. Archived from the original on 2005-05-08. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  4. ^ Ken P. (March 5, 2004). "An Interview with Jonathan Hensleigh". IGN. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  5. ^ Keck, William (April 13, 2004). "Rebecca is quiet at 'Punisher' premiere". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  6. ^ Weiland, Jonah (November 22, 2004). "Actor Thomas Jane Talks 'Bad Planet' and Other Comics Work". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  7. ^ "Marvel Movie Update". IGN. March 8, 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  8. ^ "LGF's 2005 Fiscal 3Q Analyst Call". Lionsgate Forums. April 5, 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  9. ^ Morris, Clint (July 1, 2005). "Arad on everything comic-to-film". Moviehole.net. Archived from the original on 2006-03-05. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  10. ^ "Jane Beefs Up For Punisher 2". Sci Fi Wire. July 18, 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-07-21. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  11. ^ "The Punisher 2 to Film in Louisiana". Superhero Hype. March 11, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  12. ^ "New Domestic Filings: 12/24/05 thru 12/30/05". Louisiana Secretary of State. December 23, 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  13. ^ "Marvel Reports Q2 2006 Earnings Per Share of $0.19; Raises 2006 EPS Guidance Range to $0.50 - $0.60, Reflecting Tax Benefit and Impact of Share Repurchases". Business Wire. August 7, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  14. ^ Phegley, Kiel (August 17, 2006). "Up Close with Thomas Jane". Wizard Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2006-09-17. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  15. ^ Horn, John (August 18, 2006). "Take 2 - Filmmakers trickle back to Katrina-devastated New Orleans". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  16. ^ Adler, Shawn; Larry Carroll (October 12, 2006). "Movie File: 'Harry Potter,' Brad Pitt, Jason Schwartzman & More". MTV. Retrieved 2006-10-12. 
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  22. ^ "John Dahl is not directing Punisher 2". Collider.com. November 6, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  23. ^ McLelland, Ryan (June 12, 2006). "Punisher 2 Lands a Director". LatinoReview.com. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
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  25. ^ "Exclusive Scoop: We Know Who the New Punisher Is!". [dead link]
  26. ^ "Lionsgate Release Confirms Punisher 2 Details". Superhero Hype. August 1, 2007. 
  27. ^ "Interview: Ray Stevenson on Punisher: War Zone". Collider.com. December 4, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  28. ^ Punisher: War Zone 2-Disc Edition (DVD/Blu-ray). Event occurs at "Training to Become the Punisher". 
  29. ^ "Ray Stevenson talks Punisher". Collider.com. March 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  30. ^ "Official Sequel Title Now 'Punisher: War Zone'". JustPressPlay.net. August 28, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  31. ^ [1][dead link]
  32. ^ "Punisher: War Zone, episode #20 of How Did This Get Made? on Earwolf". Earwolf.com. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  33. ^ "'Punisher: War Zone' Shooting Dates and Crew Details". Comics2Film.com. October 20, 2007. 
  34. ^ "Lexi Alexander on Shooting Punisher". Superhero Hype. December 29, 2007. 
  35. ^ "Punisher: War Zone Update". 
  36. ^ "Punisher Will Enter War Zone 3 Months Later". Superhero Hype. April 3, 2008. 
  37. ^ "The Unfortunate Reality Behind Punisher War Zone". Ain't It Cool News. July 25, 2008. 
  38. ^ "The Punisher: WarZone, Let's talk about the reboot". Raw Studios. August 16, 2008. 
  39. ^ Linder, Brian (October 3, 2008). "Punisher Rated, Director Staying Put". IGN. 
  40. ^ "Weekend Box Office for Punisher: War Zone". Box Office Mojo. 
  41. ^ "Marvel Comics movies". Box Office Mojo. 
  42. ^ "Punisher: War Zone (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  43. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 3, 2008). "Punisher: War Zone Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  44. ^ Collis, Clark (December 12, 2008). "Review of Punisher: War Zone". Entertainment Weekly (1025): 52. 
  45. ^ "Robot Boombox Riffs: Punisher - War Zone". Robot Boombox. November 22, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Punisher: Warzone (DVD)". Cinema Crazed. March 18, 2009. 
  47. ^ Porter, Edward (February 8, 2009). "Punisher: Warzone". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-11-17. "Highly enjoyable tosh."  3/5 stars
  48. ^ Olliver, Victor. "Punisher: War Zone Review". Teletext. [dead link] 4/5 stars
  49. ^ "Movie review: 'Punisher: War Zone' bloody good". San Francisco Chronicle. December 5, 2008. 
  50. ^ Oswalt, Patton (December 16, 2008). "THE "IS THIS HAPPENING?" MOVIE CLUB". PattonOswalt.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  51. ^ Scheer, Paul (October 3, 2011). "Punisher: War Zone, episode #20 of How Did This Get Made?". Earwolf. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  52. ^ "Punisher: War Zone - DVD Sales". The Numbers. 
  53. ^ "Punisher: War Zone Review". DVD Reviewer. June 30, 2009. 
  54. ^ Schweiger, Daniel (Soundtrack Editor) (December 11, 2008). "Exclusive Interview: E-Notes: Composer Michael Wandmacher puts on the skull and crossbones for 'Punisher'". Retrieved 2009-10-23. [dead link]
  55. ^ Vejvoda, Jim (July 24, 2010). "SDCC 10: The Punisher Will Return to the Big Screen". IGN.com. Retrieved July 27, 2011. 

External links[edit]