UPDATE: I loved it. Finally, someone made a Punisher movie that is fun to sit through. The movie is brutal and silly and strange and funny and packed with action and madness and more than a little bit of that contemptuous Garth Ennis black humor. A parkour guy gets blown up mid-leap by a rocket.
A full review is coming soon.
This one is a time capsule, trying to capture the exact moment of almost 4 pm on Monday December 1st. I’m writing to you about an hour before I head out to a mixer/screening for Punisher: War Zone. And I’m really excited.
First of all, the mixer – featuring director Lexi Alexander and star Ray Stevens – comes before the screening. This means I will be having drinks in advance of seeing the movie. This is helpful, as it will put me, the reviewer, into the mindset of you, the Friday night audience member – inebriated. Nine times out of ten serving the press booze before your screening indicates a lack of confidence in your film.
But I wonder if Lionsgate’s confidence in the film versus my expectations for the film are actually in line. Do they think they have an over the top, bloody mess on their hands? If so, I couldn’t be happier. I am not walking into a screening of Punisher: War Zone looking for compelling characters or a story that moves me. I am looking for disembowelments, decapitations and a deluge of bullets. Give me that, while keeping all the other bullshit to a minimum, and I will be happy.
My friend Daniel commented on my Facebook page that he was getting a Commando vibe out of the Punisher trailers, and that’s all I’m hoping for. Lunacy and violence.
The funny thing is that expectations like these are sometimes harder to meet than expectations for ‘good’ films. The other big screening/mixer in town tonight? Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. Maybe that’s a bad example, as Gran Torino is looking a little hilarious these days, but if an Oscar bait movie fails at what it tries to be it’s rarely as excruciating as when a non-stop action film fails. And our definitions of Oscar bait remain about the same, while the ante keeps getting upped on films like this. While watching Punisher I will not only be thinking about Commando but also Running Scared and Crank.
In four or five hours I’ll be back with a quick update as to whether I was disappointed or not. In the meantime know that I walked in the door with the highest of hopes.