The Punisher

Producers Avi Arad and Gale Anne Hurd must have learned their lesson from The Hulk: after giving respected filmmaker Ang Lee a $120 million budget and watching his movie flop with critics and audiences alike, they've taken another Marvel Comics property and shot it on the cheap with a first-time director, Jonathan Hensleigh. The result isn't any better, but it's certainly no worse, and there's something to be said for letting a comic book adaptation operate at the level of a comic book, dispensing cheap laughs and ice-cold sadism. Thomas Jane is the hard-bodied hero, an FBI agent who turns vigilante after his family is assassinated by malevolent drug lord John Travolta. With Will Patton, Laura Harring, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and a brief but welcome cameo by Roy Scheider. R, 124 min.

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