Action Movies Wiki
The Punisher
Punisher ver2.jpg
Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh
Produced by Avi Arad
Gale Anne Hurd
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh
Michael France
Starring Thomas Jane
John Travolta
Rebecca Romijn
Will Patton
Ben Foster
Roy Scheider
Laura Harring
Music by Carlo Siliotto
Cinematography Conrad W. Hall
Editing by Steven Kemper
Jeff Gullo
Distributed by Global:
Columbia Pictures
United States:
Lions Gate Films
Release date(s) April 16, 2004
Running time Theatrical Cut:
124 min.
Extended Cut:
140 min.
Language English
Budget $15,500,000[1]
Followed by The Punisher 2
Allmovie profile
IMDb profile

The Punisher is a 2004 film, based on the Marvel Comics character Punisher, 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” & “Welcome Back, Frank” along with scenes from other Punisher stories such as “Marvel Preview: Featuring The Punisher #2”, “The Punisher: War Zone” and “The Punisher War Journal”.[2]


The film opens with an arms deal taking place at a port in Tampa. 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 his own men, 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 scores of them, 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 a witch doctor. That night, at Saint's club, the Saints drink a toast to their revenge.

Castle packs up his things from his home and takes refuge in an old house where three youngsters, Spacker 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, despite Castle giving them the names of the killers (for two reasons: they themselves sold Castle out; and they are on the Saints' payroll). In the process, Castle sabotages Saint's money laundering business and severs Saint's partnership with the Cuban Toro mobster Brothers, Mike and Joe, and starts tailing Livia and Glass, learning that Glass is in fact gay (which he hides from Saint under fear of execution), all thanks to information provided to him by Micky Duka, who hates the Saints and was convinced to help Castle.

Saint realises that Castle is alive, and sends two assassins to kill him. First is Harry "Heck" Thornton, whom Castle kills with a trick 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 a meal Bumpo was cooking, blinding 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 chest. As Saint dies, 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 once and for all.

His revenge is taken, but now 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 (to compensate for Dave's hospital bills and the trouble he brought them). In his words: "Frank Castle is dead. Call me The Punisher."


Actor Character
Thomas Jane Frank Castle / The Punisher
John Travolta Howard Saint
Will Patton Quentin Glass
Rebecca Romijn Joan
Ben Foster Spacker Dave
John Pinette Bumpo
Samantha Mathis Maria Elizabeth Castle
Marcus Johns Will Castle
A. Russell Andrews Jimmy Weeks
James Carpinello Bobby Saint
John Saint
Laura Harring Livia Saint
Eddie Jemison Micky Duka
Kevin Nash The Russian
Mark Collie Harry Heck
Roy Scheider Frank Castle, Sr.
Tom Nowicki Lincoln

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 6 or 7 months with Navy SEALs and gained more than twenty pounds of muscle for the part.


"I had to ask myself intellectual questions like, 'To what extent do crimes against a person become so unconscionable, so heinous, that even a person who does not believe in vigilantism can resort to vigilantism in a more just way?' That was the equation for me. I told Marvel that I didn't just want to do a revenge story, that I wanted to do the mother of all revenge stories. I wanted to ramp everything up. I can't really go further without doing spoilers here. The underlying events that give rise to Frank Castle's vigilantism are not from the comic. I invented a lot of that. I made it a lot worse."
—Jonathan Hensleigh on The Punisher[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] In an interview, Hensleigh also stated the film pays homage to Mad Max.[6]

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: Template:Cquote

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: Template:Cquote Comic book writer Garth Ennis has also expressed displeasure towards Microchip.