A huge drug transaction is going down in Tampa, Florida. There is an exchange of cash and goods but suddenly the place is surrounded by FBI. The arrest gets chaotic and results in a shoot-out where most people involved are killed, including the major drugs dealer Otto and young Bobby Saint, the son of very wealthy and powerful man about town, Howard Saint (played by John Travolta). However, we soon learn that Otto isn’t really dead, Frank Castle (by Tom Jane) has posed as Otto, undercover for the FBI and has survived yet another drugs bust. For him, this is his last one, he’s just about to retire and is very happy to leave the drug busts behind and spend time with his family. But … he doesn’t bank on the unwavering need for revenge that rises in Howard Saint when he learns of his son’s untimely death. He sets a plan to vengefully eliminate Castle as soon as possible. Not happy with only Castle’s death, Howards wife Livia (by Laura Harring) wants him to go further, she directs Howard to arrange the massacre of Frank’s entire family. Howard is putty in the hands of the beautiful Livia and agrees. Meanwhile, Castle relaxes at his family reunion in Puerto Rico, unaware if the impending threat. The family play, eat and socialise until they receive unexpected visitors, who carry out Saint’s plan to the letter – bodies of Castle’s family are everywhere and at last Saint’s revenge is carried out, all is fair and all in the Saint empire can return to operation normal … or can it?
If you don’t take this movie at all seriously, you will enjoy it. Frank Castle is one of those heroes that just refuses to die – no matter what happens to him. The story does develop and Frank involves himself in some witty and entertaining sequences. The action sequences are a little “ho hum”, but I did enjoy the range of weapons used and the particular talent displayed by some characters when using them. Frank Castle is a little too devoid of personality for my liking, but there is a very nice balancing scenario when Frank moves into a “nowhere” apartment and his three neighbours (by Ben Foster, John Pinette and Rebecca Romijn) inject a very nice (and welcome) humanity into the drama. They are all quirky and real gems, adding a special and comical touch to an otherwise bland movie. The “tit for tat” between Castle and Saint is done pretty well and the build-up of suspense is entertaining. All in all, it’s just a movie to entertain you – he’s no Terminator, or Bruce Willis in Die Hard, but as Frank Castle, The Punisher, Tom Jane is okay.
Made in 2004. Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh