The Punisher (2004 film)

The Punisher (2004 film)

name = The Punisher

caption = Theatrical poster for "The Punisher"
director = Jonathan Hensleigh
writer = Jonathan Hensleigh Michael France
starring = Thomas Jane John Travolta Rebecca Romijn Will Patton Ben Foster Roy Scheider Laura Harring
producer = Avi Arad Gale Anne Hurd
music = Carlo Siliotto
editing = Steven Kemper Jeff Gullo
cinematography = Conrad W. Hall
distributor = Worldwide: Columbia Pictures United States: nowrap|Lions Gate Entertainment
budget = $15,500,000 [ Jonathan Hensleigh: Looking Back On The Punisher - Newsarama ] ]
released = April 16, 2004
runtime = Theatrical Cut: 124 min. Extended Cut: 141 min.
country = United States
language = English
amg_id = 1:285847
imdb_id = 0330793|

"The Punisher" is a 2004 film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle and John Travolta as Howard Saint, the money launderer who orders the death of Castle's entire family. The story and plot were mainly based on two Punisher comic book stories; "The Punisher: Year One" and "Welcome Back, Frank" along with scenes from other Punisher stories such as "", "The Punisher War Zone" and "The Punisher War Journal". [ [ The Punisher (2004) - Trivia ] ]


The film opens with an arms deal taking place at a port in Tampa Bay. Bobby Saint and Micky Duka meet with their contact, Otto Krieg, to provide him with the payments, but at the last moment, the FBI intervenes, and in the ensuing confrontation, Bobby and Otto are shot dead (Bobby is killed by one of the Russian arms dealers, and Otto by the FBI), and Duka is taken to prison. However, it is then revealed that Otto Kreig is in fact FBI agent Frank Castle, who was undercover and wearing a bulletproof vest. Shortly thereafter, Castle celebrates a retirement party with his friends, and heads home.

Meanwhile, it transpires that Bobby Saint is the son of the ruthless and powerful mob boss, Howard Saint, who is inflamed by the death of his son and almost kills Duka (who was bailed out). Instead, Saint and his associate, Quentin Glass, bribe the FBI to provide them with confidential information about Otto Krieg, who brokered the arms deal, and find out his true identity. At Bobby's funeral, Saint learns that Castle is at a family reunion in Puerto Rico and will be heading for London, England soon. He requests that Castle be killed, but at the last moment, Saint's wife, Livia, demands that they murder Castle's entire family as well, in a twisted act of (what the Saints believe to be) revenge.

At the reunion, Saint's cronies, Quentin Glass and John Saint (Bobby's twin) among them, kill everyone present. Castle and his father bring down a few of the attackers, but Castle Sr. is eventually killed, and Castle is shot multiple times and left for dead on a pier, which Saint's men torch and destroy. Castle, however, does not die, but is blown away from the explosion, and nursed back to health by Candelaria. That night, at Saint's club, the Saints drink a toast to their revenge.

Frank Castle was a Delta Force operator cameramen, that had turned to the FBI as a special agent to help his wife raise there family.

Castle packs up his things from his home and takes refuge in an old tenement building where three young outcasts named, Dave, Bumpo and Joan live. There, he starts his own mission of revenge, especially after learning that the police and the FBI, even five months after his family's murder, have no intention of pursuing the men responsible (Saint has essentially bribed them to cover up the case). In the process, Castle sabotages Saint's money laundering business and severs Saint's partnership with the Cuban mobsters the Toro Brothers, Mike and Joe, and starts tailing Livia and Glass, learning that Glass is in fact gay (which he hides from Saint), all thanks to information provided to him by Micky Duka, who hates the Saints and was convinced to help Castle.

Saint realizes that Castle is alive, and sends two assassins to kill him. First is Harry Heck, whom Castle kills with a ballistic knife which he uses to slit Harry's throat. Second is the Russian, a behemoth who gives Castle a severe beating until he splashes the Russian's face with a steaming pot of oil Bumpo was cooking, which severely disfigured his face and blinded him long enough for Castle to push him down the staircase and break his neck. Moments later, Saint's men arrive, led by Glass and John. Dave, Joan and Bumpo hide Castle, and refuse to tell Glass where he is, despite Glass pulling Dave's piercings out with a pair of pliers.

That night, Castle prepares himself for battle, and manipulates Saint into believing that Glass and Livia were having an affair behind his back, by planting one of Livia's earrings on Glass' messed-up bed (which Castle himself had done). Saint, unaware that Glass was gay, and believing Livia (who is implied by dialogue to have been a prostitute before meeting Howard) to be capable of cheating on him, consequently kills them both, neither of them knowing why.

Castle then attacks Saint's club, where he wages a one-man war on Saint's entire crew, killing everyone inside, including John. Saint attempts to escape, but Castle catches up with him and shoots him fatally in the stomach. As Saint writhes in agony, Castle reveals the evidence that Glass and Livia were not having an affair, but gives Saint little time to grieve, for he ties Saint to a running car, which goes into a bomb-laden car park, blowing countless cars up and killing Howard Saint.

After his revenge is taken, Castle prepares to kill himself, it is while he puts the gun to his chin he has a flashback of his wife Maria and chooses not to go through with the act and decides he will continue his vigilante mission against others who deserve punishment. Before departing on his next mission, he leaves some of Howard Saint's money for Bumpo, Joan and Dave.


Before actor Thomas Jane became the Punisher, director Jonathan Hensleigh and Avi Arad have said in many interviews that Jane was the first and only actor to be asked to play the title role. Jane initially turned down the role twice, as well as a part in the first "X-Men" movie and a few other comic book movies, the reason for that was because he did not see himself as a superhero actor. Jane said that when they asked him the second time to play the Punisher that what really got him interested in playing the part was when Arad sent Tim Bradstreet's artwork of the Punisher. After finding out what kind of character the Punisher was, he accepted. In addition to reading as many "Punisher" comics he could find to understand the character, Jane became a fan of the Punisher. Jane trained for six or seven months with the United States Navy SEALs and gained more than twenty pounds of muscle for the part. [ [ Thomas Jane Talks Punisher Training ] ]


Before filming began, Hensleigh was not given the budget he wanted or needed from the studio. Hensleigh knew that most action pictures get a budget of around $64 million. He was only given a $15 million dollar budget for the movie. He was also only given 50 days to shoot the movie, which is half the number of days it takes to shoot most action pictures. Most of Hensleigh's original script had to be edited and re-written many times due to budget costs. According to the DVD commentary, the first scene in the movie would have been a battle set in Kuwait during the Gulf War, but they were unable to film this scene as a result of the budget cuts.

The Punisher was filmed on location in Tampa, Florida. For inspiration, Hensleigh and cinematographer Conrad W. Hall looked at dozens of action movies from the 1960s and 1970s, such as the "Dirty Harry" series, "The Getaway", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", "The Godfather" and "Bonnie and Clyde". [ [ adaptation: the punisher] ] In an interview, Hensleigh also stated the film pays homage to "Mad Max". [ [ Jonathan Hensleigh Reveals 'Punisher' Homages ] ]

As stated above the story and plot were mainly based on two Punisher comic book stories; "Welcome Back, Frank" and "The Punisher: Year One" but before the film was released in theaters Jonathan Hensleigh was asked if the movie had been entirely based on "The Punisher: Year One" storyline. Jonathan Hensleigh stated: cquote|"The Punisher: Year One" was a four-issue set that came out in 1994-1995. It has this really cool cover art and I highly recommend it. I took just pieces of the plot. If the entire movie was just based on "Year One" then the plot line would have been way, way too involved and it would have been "Gone with the Wind"—a four-hour movie with only the very ending having any action in the whole movie at all.

During shooting of the film Lions Gate had purchased Artisan. In an interview with Jonathan Hensleigh, Hensleigh said that even though the movie is under Lions Gate, they had nothing to do with the film. Lions Gate never gave a green light for the film to be made. The film was still under Artisan Entertainment.

The character of Microchip was not included in the script because of director Jonathan Hensleigh's distaste for him. Hensleigh said: cquote|There are a couple of years where I did not want to go; Microchip, the battle van, all that stuff where it got really high-tech; we're not going there at all. I deemed that too complicated, too lacking of the spirit of the sort of urban vigilante. The Punisher does not just go around blowing people away using such things that Batman or James Bond would have or would even be in envy of; he uses guile and cunning just as much as he does weaponry and physical combat.

Release and reception

"The Punisher" opened in 2,649 theaters on April 16, 2004 and grossed $13,834,527 over its opening weekend. The film has a domestic gross of $33,810,189 and a foreign gross of $20,889,916, giving it a worldwide total of $54,700,105.

On its release, it was met with mixed reviews. Many have defended the movie stating that compared to most comic book based movies, it is a well done throwback to the old school action movies of the 1960s and 1970s. []


The novelization of the movie which has Jonathan Hensleigh's original script and screenplay and a mini comic book by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon that came with the DVD (the first and only DVD mini prequel comic book and only 10,000 produced) has it that Frank Castle fought in Iraq in the Gulf War (Frank was awarded the Bronze Star after the war), in Bosnia in the Bosnian War and was a member of the Delta Force, CTU (there is no relation to the Jack Bauer character that works for CTU on the TV series "24") and the FBI. The novel also has it that the setting of the Vietnam War, which is a big and important part of the Punisher’s past in the comic book, had to be replaced by having him in the Gulf War and as an undercover agent in the FBI. He spends months deep undercover surrounded by people who would simply blow his head off if he slipped up. The writer says that getting into character as these people were starting to taint Frank (this is also seen in the mini comic book) that he seemed to enjoy it too much when it came to killing the bad guys. Living on the wrong side of the law for a time, even if it wasn't for the job, is something else that explains his assuming the mantle of the Punisher.

DVD sales

"The Punisher" DVD was released on September 7, 2004 and sold nearly 1.8 million copies in its first five days and netted $10.8 million in rentals its first week out, making it number one in DVD sales. Sales continued at a steady pace, ultimately topping 4 million units. During October, "The Punisher" DVD rentals were still in the top ten and various cable and satellite providers had started to offer "The Punisher" as a pay-per-view feature. Between worldwide movie box office and DVD sales, it grossed $115 million ($55 million worldwide + $60 million from DVD sales). It was reported in 2005 that along with other movies that the 2004 Punisher DVD commentary by Jonathan Hensleigh and "Making of the Movie" are used in some film classes to help beginning film directors get started since the film was a low budget movie.

Extended cut

An extended cut DVD was released on November 21, 2006 with 17 minutes of additional footage. Features also include a black and white stop motion animated scene, set in Kuwait based on and done by artist Tim Bradstreet, and a Punisher comic book gallery. An extended version of "In Time" by Mark Collie also appears in the closing credits of the extended cut DVD.

"The Punisher" was released on Blu-ray Disc on June 27, 2006.


Infobox Album
Name = Original Score from the Motion Picture The Punisher
Type = Soundtrack
Artist = Carlo Siliotto

Released = June 15, 2004
Recorded =
Genre = Orchestral Film score
Length = 63:43
Label = La-La Land Records
Producer = Douglas Besterman
Reviews =
Chronology =
Last album =
This album =
Next album =

The score to "The Punisher" was composed and conducted by Italian composer Carlo Siliotto. Director Jonathan Hensliegh wanted the music to be very emotional, and was aware of Siliotto previous work which led to him being chosen. When scoring the film Siliotto saw Frank Castle as a tragic figure stating; "This man, Frank Castle, is somebody who has a slaughtered family. He comes through that slaughter, and becomes a punisher. But he's a sad man - he drinks, and has bad memories always coming to him. There's a lot in the film, and at times it is like a modern version of a classic tragedy - like "Othello"." [ [ SoundtrackNet: Interview - Carlo Siliotto] ]

#"The Punisher" (:56)
#"Otto Krieg" (3:14)
#"Unusual Resurrection" (1:40)
#"Moving" (3:09)
#"I Can't Believe I'm Home" (1:23)
#"His Whole Family" (1:27)
#"The Massacre" (5:45)
#"Death and Resurrection of Frank Castle" (1:47)
#"God's Gonna Sit This One Out" (3:57)
#"Ice Lolly and Meat" (1:28)
#"You're Gonna Help Me" (1:24)
#"Entering the Fort" (1:58)
#"About Your Family / Setting a Trap" (3:11)
#"A Bomb for John Saint" (1:08)
#"Good Memories Can Save Your Life" (1:13)
#"The Thugs" (1:30)
#"The Torture" (3:12)
#"Elevator and Headache" (1:07)
#"A New Family / Joan's Suffering" (3:34)
#"Quentin's Glass Home" (1:32)
#"Killing a Best Friend" (1:43)
#"You Don't Understand... End of a Dark Lady" (2:34)
#"She Took the Train / Punishment" (1:47)
#"The Arrow" (1:48)
#"Both of Them" (1:32)
#"The Skull" (2:34)
#"Castle's Loneliness" (1:35)
#"Call Me 'The Punisher'" (2:23)
#"Jealous One" by J.C. Loader (3:52)
#"La donna è mobile" by Peter Dvorsky (2:06)

Awards and nominations (2005)


*Prism Awards
**Mark Chadwick was awarded a for Best Fire Stunt.


*World Stunt Awards (Taurus Award)
**Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman.
**Best Stunt Coordinator and/or 2nd Unit Director.
**Best Work with a Vehicle.


Lions Gate Entertainment had greenlit a direct sequel to be made due to the strong performance the film had on DVD. However, the project lingered in development for over three years. Jonathan Hensleigh completed a first draft of the script before pulling out around 2006. John Dahl was in talks to direct the film but pulled out due to the script not being good and the studio not wanting to spend a lot of money on the project. [ [ Punisher 2 Script Not That Good] ] In a statement on May 15, 2007 and in two audio interviews Thomas Jane said that he pulled out of the project due to creative differences and the budget of the film being cut, in addition to director Walter Hill being turned down as director by Lionsgate. [ [ AICN Exclusive: Thomas Jane dropping out of PUNISHER 2?!? - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news ] ] [ [ Fanboy Radio - Thomas Jane] ] [ [ Fangoria Radio - Thomas Jane] ]


External links

* [ The Punisher Trailer]
* [ The Punisher on]
*mojo title|id=punisher|title=The Punisher
*imdb title|id=0330793|title=The Punisher
*rotten-tomatoes|id=1131721-punisher|title=The Punisher
*shh|id=punisher|title=The Punisher

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