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Punisher: War Zone Review Critics


Dave White Profile

...creatively violent Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

    So unrelentingly violent that all but teen boys might as well stay home.

    Read Full Review

  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The dialogue is beyond clichéd, and performances feel cobbled together from other movies.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It looks great, it hurtles through its paces and is well-acted. The soundtrack is like elevator music if the elevator were in a death plunge. The special effects are state of the art. Its only flaw is that it's disgusting.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The film works a bit better than the 2004 "Punisher" installment, the one starring surly, dislikable Thomas Jane as Frank Castle.

    Read Full Review

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Dominic West (The Wire) plays a facially mutilated Mob boss as if he's in a broad SNL sketch.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Punisher: War Zone reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Violent vigilante comic book story is gory, grim stuff.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this over-the-top action movie is unrepentantly violent, with a body count in the dozens and constant extreme, grisly depictions of hand-to-hand combat, gunshot wounds, explosions, industrial accidents, and much more. The movie's tone is also very moody and bleak -- it may be based on a popular Marvel comic book character, but it's not kids' stuff. It's more akin to the adventures of Dirty Harry than those of Spider-Man. Not only does the film tacitly endorse the vigilante "hero" and his violent methods, but so do law enforcement characters -- who either turn a blind eye to his activities or actively help him. Characters also use extremely strong language, drink, and use drugs (some are shown snorting cocaine).

  • Families can talk about the appeal of extreme violence on screen. What draws viewers to this kind of movie? What are the effects of watching so much grisly violence, even if it's intended to be deliberately over-the-top and cartoonish? Families can also discuss the film's endorsement of "going outside the law" to punish criminals who've evaded the consequences of their actions. Do the ends ever justify the means? What other recourse do people have when the system doesn't work?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The film's "hero" is a vigilante who fights New York's organized crime figures after his family is executed for accidentally witnessing a mob execution. His murderous work is in many ways secretly approved of by legitimate law enforcement personnel. He shoots and kills an undercover FBI agent and is tormented by this. Discussion of terror plots and biological weapons (which are to be sold "to the ragheads in Queens"). Some discussion of God's mercy and forgiveness and plan; the main character rationalizes his work by explaining that "someone has to punish the corrupt." A criminally insane character is referred to as "Looney Bin Jim."

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: The movie's body count is in the dozens, with constant, extreme, and bloody/gory violence -- including shootings, fights, bare-handed neck-breakings, decapitations, several point-blank shotgun blasts (viewers see the victim's face obliterated), stabbings, death by explosion, and more. A man stabs another man through the neck with the stem of a broken wineglass. A man is killed by having a chair leg thrust through his face. A man is seen devouring another man's kidneys after murdering him. A man is hurled into an industrial glass crusher; viewers see his face, stripped bare of skin and pouring blood (later his face is a grotesque patchwork of scars, grafts, and transplants). Several extremely detailed special-effects deaths -- like when the "hero" punches someone so hard that he penetrates their skull. A man is hurled onto the sharp metal posts of a wrought-iron fence.

  • sex false1

    Sex: A brief refrence to "screwing hookers."

  • language false5

    Language: Constant strong language, including "f--k," "motherf--ker," "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "crap," "c--ksucker," and more. Some Italian vulgarities.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Some brands -- Range Rover, Krispy Kreme, Beretta -- are mentioned by name.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters smoke, drink hard liquor, and are seen snorting cocaine. References are made to crystal meth and anti-psychotic drugs.