‘Punisher’ Gets R-Rating
The Motion Picture Association of America has sentenced Punisher: War Zone with an R-rating. According to CHUD, the R was granted for "pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use."
Everyone who watched the red band trailer for Punisher: War Zone saw the exact same thing: disgusting, humiliating, bone-chilling violence at its absolute brainiest. For fans of Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher for Marvel’s MAX imprint, this was a very good sign. But panic broke shortly over speculation that the film would be watered down in pursuit of a PG-13 rating.
The rumors stemmed from reports that director Lexi Alexander had been unceremoniously dropped from the project due to conflicts with Lionsgate. Alexander reportedly disagreed with Lionsgate’s desire to pull punches with the violent content and their desire to use heavy metal music instead of the planned original score. All signs pointed to yet another cajones-free Punisher film.
The granting of the R-rating is sure to cool some fears as it’s likely to stick closer to Alexander’s vision, but the film is still marred with bad history. Thomas Jane, who played Frank Castle in 2004’s The Punisher, notoriously dropped out of Punisher: War Zone back in 2007. In a letter to Ain’t It Cool News, Jane wrote:
"I am, sadly — no, make that heartbrokenly — f*** it — just rip out the heart and stomp it into the pavement a couple of times — pulling out. Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves."
Jane closed the letter by calling the vigilante sequel "a movie that I just don’t believe in."
Many will argue that since The Punisher was universally panned, Jane’s opinion doesn’t amount to much. Still, it’s worth pondering why the acclaimed actor felt so strongly against the project.
Punisher: War Zone centers on Frank Castle facing his most deadly foe yet, Jigsaw. The film, directed by Lexi Alexander, stars Ray Stevenson (Rome), Dominic West (The Wire), Julie Benz (Dexter) and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld). Punisher: War Zone will be released by Lionsgate on December 5, 2008.