Jonathan Hensleigh’s 2004 film, The Punisher is a wonderfully pulpy comic book adaptation with with a great lead performance from the mighty Thomas Jane. The actor plays Frank Castle, a cop who turns avenger when his family is wiped out by crime-lord, Howard Saint (John Travolta).
Hensleigh gets the tone just right, balancing the humour and the action in the the revenge tale. Travolta delivers a wonderfully arch performance as the villain of the piece and there’s a textured supporting turn from the always reliable Will Patton. Other supporting actors include Rebecca Romijn, Ben Foster and Roy Scheider (amongst others).
Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and John Romita Sr. The Punisher was a modest hit on the big screen back in 2004. It grossed $33.8 million at the US box office and $54.7 million globally.
A direct sequel was planned and Hensleigh and Jane were set to turn. However, creative differences saw them both walk away from the project. The sequel then morphed into 2008’s disappointing reboot Punisher: War Zone, directed by Lexi Alexander and starring Ray Stevenson in the lead role.
Thomas Jane would sort-of reprise the role of Frank Castle in Phil Jonau’s un-official 10-minute short film, Dirty Laundry in 2012.