Gort vs The Punisher: War Zone is the Punisher movie you want

Commander's Log, Stardate 06092013.2:

Like an avenging dark angel, I stalked the Mothership's corridors this week. Dressed all in black, I sneaked through the ship and slipped into the engine room. Silently creeping up on Steve the Engineer, I grabbed his neck and flung him into the steel wall of his control room, before hanging him upside-down from a strut hanging loose from the wall.

"Dude! What the hell?!" he gasped.

"Where are my God-damned Jammie Dodgers?!" I rasped.


Throughout time immemorial, comics creators have tried to make Hollywood understand the basic principle that what works in a comic will work on the screen. Hollywood responds by insisting that cinema-goers do not get comics and only the very germ of the idea of a comic should survive the transition to celluloid. This had resulted, until recently, in some terrible movies.

You would think that with the success of The Avengers that Hollywood would now be on side, but no. Nolan and DC are still trying to "adapt" their properties. Nolan's Batman is hailed as a modern classic and we like Batman Begins, but the following films just digressed into a messy hodge-podge of Heat in dress-up. All this when we could have had something as balanced as Lexi Alexander's Punisher War Zone.

"This Punisher kills with prejudice - we particularly enjoy when he smashes a chair leg through a gangster's face"

Make no mistake, the acting in the movie is pretty poor. There's actually a great cast you'll recognise, but every one is just phoning it in. The effects make-up and CGI look like it's the 90s and the tone flails wildly from 60s Batcamp to Saw-level gore. Overall, the film feels like a bodged-together production that could benefit from a few extra dollars and a good script rewrite. Nonetheless, War Zone manages to be both grown up and feel like a comic at the same time.

Even though this doesn't follow on from the Thomas Jane version, we don't have to sit through yet another origin story. We get a brief flashback and a bit of exposition explaining how Ray Stevenson's veteran Navy Seal saw his family killed by gangsters and set out to brutally murder his way through every criminal in America in revenge, but this isn't until halfway through. It's from the Tim Burton school of superhero movies.

Even better, this Punisher kills... with prejudice. We particularly enjoy it when he smashes a chair leg through a gangster's face. Still, this isn't a Kick Ass-style excuse for childish Daily Mail-baiting. Stevenson's Punisher makes a mistake - a good guy dies -  and he's riddled with guilt over it. The final remedy to that situation is far from ethically straightforward. This is a mature, gritty film pulled straight from the pages of a picture book for kids. Nolan, this is how it's done.