PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (Lexi Alexander). Opens Friday (December 5). 103 minutes. Rating: NNN
Punisher: War Zone is to action movies what the Saw films are to horror. Their villains even share the name Jigsaw.
Punisher's pleasures come from the inventive and brutally bloody manner in which people are maimed and murdered - by everything from a bazooka blast and a fist through the face to a trip through a glass bottle crusher (which is how Jigsaw, a Frankenstein-faced goombah played by Dominic West in the most intentionally over-the-top performance since Al Pacino in Dick Tracy, gets his name).
This is the third film based on the Marvel comic about a vigilante with a skull emblazoned on his chest, and it is easily the best (although that's not saying much).
But for once, the Punisher (Rome centurion Ray Stevenson) is no pussy. He's Michael Myers with heavy artillery, mowing down Mafiosos with tongue planted firmly in cheek. This is for fans of 80s action movies and Mack Bolan: Executioner novels (which inspired the Punisher character) and Dark Man.
In no way a great movie, it's in fact an absurd cartoony Canon Films-style guns-and-ammo epic. The result is entirely laughable - but in an entirely good way.