Archives for posts with tag: John Travolta

Grade C+

2004 gave us the second Punisher movie; not a sequel, but a fresh start.  Thomas Jane plays the title role this time.  He starts off as undercover, FBI agent Frank Castle.  During his last mission, the son of a powerful mobster is killed; and the big, bad boss (played by John Travolta) finds out the true identity of Jane, blames his son’s death on him, and sets forth a plan to destroy Jane and his entire family.  With a bit of luck and a lot of stupidity on the part of Travolta’s henchmen, Jane survives and comes back with a vengeance and a new name: “The Punisher.”

Twice I had hoped Hollywood would make a good Punisher movie, and twice I was disappointed.  Jane is a good actor and looks the part of The Punisher, so I have no problems there.  Travolta, on the other hand, was miscast as the main bad guy.  As I watched Travolta act mean and crazy and evil, I kept thinking he was going to revert to his Vinnie Barbarino role and say “Oh ma gad, the Punisher…where?”  He was unconvincing as the main villain; and every time a character is unconvincing, the audience gets taken out of the movie.

“The Punisher” also has plot holes that can’t easily be shrugged off.  Jane reveals to the world that he is still alive, which puts him at a serious disadvantage because now his enemies know who is coming after them.  Of course, Travolta finds out where Jane lives; but instead of sending out a large, assault force, one hitman is sent at a time…and one of them gives Jane a heads up that he was gunning for him!  The second hitman didn’t even bring weapons.  He was just a big brute who relied on his strength to kill The Punisher — you know, the guy with all the guns and explosives and military training to kill a small army by himself.  Adding to all this stupidity is the comedic overtones of the fight between the large hitman and Jane.  (sigh)  All these glaring mistakes I see in so many movies makes me believe that people involved in movies are mostly high on something.  Moving on.

Third place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Jane’s bloodline is wiped out by Travolta’s goons.  In the comic books, it was The Punisher’s wife and kids who were killed; but in this movie, Jane was at a family reunion at the time the hit was made, so everyone there went along for the ride.

Second place goes to the dinner scene with Jane and his neighbors in a dilapidated, apartment building.  One neighbor (Rebecca Romijn) says that she’s thankful for being sober, having a job, and just being alive.  Wow, just thankful to be alive.  Next time you flip out because the airline is charging you more money to bring in your carry-on luggage, just think of all the people out there who are struggling to stay above ground.

First place among my memorable, movie moments of “The Punisher” (2004) is the punishment that Travolta receives at the end of the movie.  It was so over the top that I laughed!  Travolta’s funny way of moaning in pain combined with the silly music turned this scene into a Monty Python sketch.

Do I recommend this movie to fans of The Punisher comic books?  Mmmmm…I guess.  But only because I know that die-hard fans of comic book characters will always want to check out the movie adaptations just to see for themselves how good or bad it is.  To all the fans of The Punisher, I suggest you watch Netflix’s “Daredevil” Season 2 for a great portrayal of the man who wears the white skull on his chest.

— M

I have to be careful of my assessment of the Oliver Stone movie, “Savages,” because I watched it while hanging out with 4 of my best friends; and it was the first movie we watched that day, and we were all pretty chatty at that point.   And we all know what happens when there’s a lot of cross talk during a movie: some of the subtleties and nuances of the movie are missed, as well as some of the dialogue that can be critical in the true understanding of the movie.  With that said, here we go.

“Savages” has Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing pot growers/dealers in California who have the same lover played by Blake Lively.  The business and pot of Kitsch/Johnson are so good that it attracts the attention of a Mexican drug cartel, headed by Salma Hayek.  Hayek wants them all to be partners, but the two Cali white dudes say no, so the cartel kidnaps Lively to force the white dudes into making the deal.  Kitsch, being the balls out, Iraqi/Afghan war vet, eventually decides that a war with the Mexicans is inevitable since he believes there can be no happy ending to the mess they find themselves in.  So, Kitsch/Johnson and their crew of ex-military guys take the fight to the Mexicans; and that’s when things get really messy and brutal.

I decided to watch “Savages” based on the trailer and the Oliver Stone name.  First, the trailer makes you think that this is mostly an action flick. It’s not.  “Savages” is in the realm of drama/suspense/thriller, with a bit of action thrown here and there.  Second, this is not Oliver Stone’s best movie.  But it is an okay movie.  I like the way Stone shows us the private lives of the Mexican cartel members, so that we see what makes them tick, and not just see them as mindless thugs.   One cartel member is played by Benicio Del Toro; and all scenes with him are memorable, movie moments of “Savages,” as he looks like an evil, Mexican, Brad Pitt!  It is…very disturbing…and funny.  You know, like the way the Catholic church likes to talk about how we should strive to be good people, and yet the church has used its powers to shield child molesters within their ranks from prosecution.  Sure, sure, the Catholic church are making strides to come down hard on child raping priests; but only after the wrong doings of the church were revealed over a period of decades.

Speaking of wrong, Oliver Stone gives us a “what the hell?” moment at the endings of “Savages.”  Yes, endings.  We get two endings.  I won’t go into details in order not to spoil it for you; but the ending sequences takes the first prize for the most memorable, movie moment (or should I say moments?).    I will say that it ruined “Savages” for me.  Despite the trailer fooling me into thinking that this movie was going to be an all out war between two guys and a Mexican drug cartel, I was able to find the numerous merits of this movie regarding the acting, script, pacing, structure, direction…but those endings…

There is such a thing as being too stylish…and smoking too much s#*t.  If someone eased back on those two things, “Savages” may have been a very good movie, instead of just being okay.  At least I didn’t have to pay for seeing this movie (thanks, Library!).


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