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Film / The Punisher (2004)

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"Those who do evil to others - the killers, the rapists, psychos, sadists — you will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher."

The second film adaptation of The Punisher, released in 2004. The film was the directing debut for Jonathan Hensleigh, previously a well-known screenwriter. Hensleigh had written or co-written scripts for such films as Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Jumanji (1995), The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), The Saint (1997), Armageddon (1998), Virus (1999), and Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000).

FBI agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) retires just after an undercover assignment that led into the death of Bobby Saint, the son of famous Tampa crime boss Howard Saint (John Travolta). Holding Castle responsible for the death of his son, Saint orders Frank's entire family to be butchered during a family reunion; the kill squad leaves Frank for dead after slaughtering his family and killing his wife and son right before his eyes. Burnt out and haunted by memories of his murdered family, Frank returns to Florida and sets out to avenge his family. Becoming a one-man Judge, Jury, and Executioner, Frank decides to punish Howard Saint and his associates for their crimes — and he isn't willing to give up until they are all dead.

The film has an unofficial/unauthorized sequel starring Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman, titled Dirty Laundry. However, the 2005 video game The Punisher (THQ) is technically considered to be the only known official follow-up to the movie.

This film has the examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Frank says in response to someone acknowledging that he is upset over his family's death: "I used to get upset when the Yankees won the Series." This is both a Mythology Gag, as Frank had always been depicted as a New Yorker, as well as an allusion to Thomas Jane's most famous prior role as Mickey Mantle in 61*.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Joan the Mouse in the comics is a small, quiet, frumpy woman. In the movie she is played by Rebecca Romijn — freaking Mystique herself. Also, Bumpo is much less Gonkish when played by positively cherubic John Pinette. There's also Ink, who was originally a creepy middle-aged man with a perpetual wall-eyed expression who is played by Keram Malicki-Sánchez, who is quite cute and pretty-looking.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film is largely composed of many characters or scenes from Garth Ennis' The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank arc. Frank's next-door neighbors in particular, The Russian, and Harry Heck (who even gets an upgrade over his original appearance, where he was merely one of many hitmen that was hired to kill Frank that Frank assassinates in a single panel).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Mickey Fondozzi becomes Mickey Duka in the film.
    • Frank Castle is Frank Castle Jr.. He's apparently born with that name as his father is Frank Castle Sr. instead of Mario Castiglione. And Frank's mother is Betty Castle instead of Louisa Castiglione. 'Castiglione' is the name of their extended family.
    • Frank's son is Will instead of being Jr.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The Punisher is famously a New York-based character. Budget constraints meant that the movie's setting was changed to Florida.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Downplayed. Frank's no saint in this movie, but he's a bit more unambiguously heroic and amicable than he is usually portrayed in the comics, though remains the cold, stoic, stern and serious Terse Talker of the comics after his family is murdered.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The film makes Canon Foreigner and film Big Bad Howard Saint the man who ordered Frank Castle's family killed, thus setting off his Roaring Rampage of Revenge as the titular Vigilante Man.
  • Adapted Out: Frank's daughter Lisa from the comics.
  • Affair Hair: Howard gives a pair of diamond earrings to his wife, so Frank steals one of them and plants it in the bed of Quentin (who ironically is a closet homosexual). He also arranges other fake clues to arouse suspicion, like stealing her car while she's inside a movie theater and ensuring it gets ticketed outside a hotel, and placing calls to Quentin using her car phone.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Frank's pistols come from his father.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Like his parents, John Saint doesn't take the death of Bobby, his twin brother, very well.
  • Arch-Enemy: Frank's is Howard Saint, the mob boss who killed his family.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Quentin Glass, a secret that Frank used for his advantage.
  • Badass Baritone: Frank's voice becomes much gruffer after his family dies.
  • Badass Boast: The page quote, which double as the last lines of the film.
    • Howard tries to make one himself trying to intimidate the Cartel from turning on him by saying "I got more guns then you do." only for awkwardly Quentin to point out that they don't actually have more guns.
  • Badass Longcoat: Castle himself, as the poster above shows.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Although Castle can kill the bad guys himself, he exploits the trope by having Howard kill off Quentin and Livia before dealing with him last.
  • Batman Gambit: Castle's plot relies on Howard not trusting his own closest associates and loved ones.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Castle returns to explore the aftermath of the attack on his family while sporting one of these.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Howard Saint murders his best friend and his wife after Castle's frameup convinces him they were cheating together. They're both Asshole Victims to the nth degree, but it's almost enough to make you feel bad for them, as neither one has any idea why he's doing it.
    Quentin: *weakly* "Howard, you're killing me... Wh—why are you killing me?"
  • Big Applesauce: Averted. Frank is nearly always depicted as a New Yorker, but this flick moves his story to Tampa. The DVD commentary reveals that the main reason to move to Tampa was Florida's tax incentives for film productions. The budget was too tight to film anywhere else. Hand Waved by an exchange between Frank and his son, suggesting that his line of work has required the family to move several times.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frank Castle ruthlessly and meticulously avenges his murdered family, hunting down and wiping out the Saints and their entire gang and their operations, before returning to his apartment to commit suicide. Before he can go through with it, he has a vision or memory of his dead wife, and changes his mind at the last moment. He later departs on good terms with his neighbors after leaving them some cash, leaves his life as Frank Castle behind him, and sets out to become the infamous wandering vigilante the world will come to know as The Punisher.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Frank is a vigilante willing to torture people to get his vengeance. However, the Saints murder Castle's entire family (including the children), and are only slightly sympathetic due to their own son being killed (by Castle) during a police shootout.
  • Blofeld Ploy: After interrogating Mickey about the death of his son, Saint points a gun at him... then turns and shoots his son's ex-bodyguard.
  • Bond One-Liner: Saint drops two in a row when talking with his son about having just killed his wife and best friend, although he doesn't say he killed them. Quentin (in a body bag) is "wrapped up in something," his wife (dropped off a bridge in front of an oncoming train) "took the train."
  • Car Fu: Harry Heck starts his assault by driving his Cool Car into Frank's own. A case of TRAIN Fu happens when Saint kills his wife by dropping her off a bridge, directly in the path of a speeding locomotive.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Big Bad Howard Saint has the body of his associate Quentin wrapped in a carpet when he confronts his wife Livia over her supposed infidelity.
  • Cassandra Truth: Saint doesn't buy Livia's defense that Quentin was gay, thanks to his now-dead friend having been so deep in the closet.
    Howard Saint: You would say anything, wouldn't you?!
  • Casting Gag:
  • Chekhov's Armoury: With the exception of the ballistic knife, nearly every weapon Castle uses is shown beforehand either in a montage or as part of a scene.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the book, Frank left his son's rebreather in the ocean while teaching him scuba diving. After the family massacre, Frank manages to find and use it hide underwater from his pursuers.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Frank does this by hanging his victim upside down, threatening to burn him with a torch. He goes into agonizing detail about how a blowtorch is so hot that it destroys nerve endings before they can register heat so the end result is that all you actually feel is cold. He then runs a Popsicle up and down the guy's back.
    • Quentin Glass does this by producing a pair of needle-nose pliers and threatening to rip out all of Dave's facial piercings unless someone tells him where to find Frank. Neither Dave nor Bumpo talk, so Quentin does go through with it.
  • Comicbook Adaptation: Like with the previous adaptation, it featured material that was left out from the theatrical cut. See Re-Cut down below for more.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Zig-zagged. During a monologue at the end, Frank himself states that "Frank Castle is dead," and that he should be called "The Punisher." During the movie, however, everyone uses his real name.
  • Complexity Addiction: In comparison to most depictions of the Punisher, Frank goes out of his way to make Howard think that his second-in-command and his wife are having an affair so that he'll kill them both himself. And that's nothing compared to the giant flaming skull he sets up at the very end. Justified in that Frank doesn't want to just kill Howard, he wants to make him suffer.
  • Cool Car: The 1969 Pontiac GTO Frank drives in the near beginning of the film. It has a bucket seat, is painted in matte black, and has retractable metal bullet shields for the windows. Sadly, it gets wrecked during the battle with Henry Heck and Frank steals his car as a replacement. Despite being a nice muscle car, it's not the same. Luckily, it reappears in a cutscene in The Punisher (THQ), a pseudo-sequel to the film.
  • Cool Guns: Frank's father's Colt M1911's, which are heavily customized with vented slides, longer barrels and expanded magazines.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Howard Saint is violently vindictive towards anyone he suspects of going after his wife. Castle exploits this as part of his plot.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film was this for the entire comic-book movie slate up to that point.
  • David vs. Goliath: Frank being the David to the Russian's Goliath.
  • Dead Man's Switch: A variation where Frank Castle forces John Saint to hold an anti-personnel mine (that will detonate if Saint lets go of it) one-handed, with his arm extended. Even though John's a fit man, he can only do this for so long before his Sound-Only Death.
    Frank: You look like a strong kid, you must work out. This anti-personnel mine weighs eight pounds; not much. But... [places the mine in John's hand] try holding it with an outstretched arm. Hell of a workout.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Frank's entire family may have been slaughtered in cold blood, but he still retains something that resembles a sense of humor, albeit rarely. He also makes a friendly, sarcastic remark to Jimmy Weeks during a going-away party (this happens before the hit on the Castles was executed):
    Weeks: To Frank Castle – the finest soldier, the finest undercover op, the finest man I've ever known. What will I do without you?
    Castle: Get a girlfriend.
  • Diagnosis from Dr. Badass: Frank takes a blowtorch to Mickey Duka's back and describes what he's doing in great detail, including telling him that it's not painful yet because the nerve endings are seared and when the flame's that hot, it actually feels cold. This turns out to be a subversion, as the Punisher is really just swiping a popsicle across the man's back to create the described symptoms, while simultaneously using the blowtorch on a steak to create the smell of charred flesh.
    Castle: Isn't science fun, Mickey?
  • Dramatic Thunder: Heard during the lead-up to the final battle, and the confrontation between Howard and Quentin. Not used for A Storm Is Coming as presumably the budget didn't stretch far enough for a battle in the rain.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Livia Saint is shown only from the back as she faints after receiving the news that her son has been killed, then at the funeral in a black dress and a veil which she removes to reveal her face for the first time when calling for Frank Castle's entire family to be killed in retribution.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jimmy Weeks in the Extended Cut. Frank is on the verge of this once his Roaring Rampage of Revenge is over, but he decides to continue with his war on crime for its own sake.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Castle is shown downing whiskey when he's not working on his weapons or revenge plot. Joan, implied to be a reformed alcoholic, tries to talk him out of it.
  • Evil Matriarch: Livia Saint. The reason why Frank's family was wiped out, rather than just Frank as originally planned, was because she ordered it.
  • Facial Horror: The Russian gets a saucepan filled with boiling water flung into his face, and the film shows the audience really graphic details of the aftermath.
  • Fanservice Extra: The topless waitresses and Gambler Groupies at the Toro brothers' casino.
  • Flaming Emblem: At the end of the film, Punisher sets off a series of car bombs that form his iconic skull symbol.
  • Foreshadowing: Even before Frank planted evidence, at one scene, Howard noticed his wife and best friend spending time together.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)
  • Guile Hero: Frank Castle. As part of his Batman Gambit, Frank's plan for revenge was that after returning to the States, he would make it appear to Howard Saint that his wife Livia and his right-hand man Quentin are having an affair. After Saint kills both of them for the perceived betrayal, Frank makes his final assault on Saint's posh nightclub; Castle kills Saint's other son, tells Howard he killed his wife and best friend for nothing (Livia was innocent and Quentin was gay), then sends him to a fiery death.
  • Guns Akimbo: Punisher uses a pair of pistols once to dispatch two Saint goons. The rest of the time, he's using one pistol.
  • Hidden Supplies: Frank apparently had a storage unit full of weapons, explosives, and ammunition stashed away. Just in case. Though exactly why an undercover cop would need radio-triggered claymore mines is unmentioned.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted when Frank sneaks into Saint's nightclub; he packs a compound bow (instead of a suppressed gun), which he uses to take out some guards. While this may seem ridiculous, real life special forces have used archery weapons in some missions due to the bows actually being quieter than silenced weapons.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Joan shows obvious interest in Frank after he saves her from her ex-boyfriend, but he's too broken up by the death of his family and focused on his Revenge.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: During his fight against The Russian, Frank lobs a grenade at him, but has to scramble for cover when The Russian turns the tables, using a crowbar to knock the grenade back at Frank like it's a baseball.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Played for laughs and drama after Frank defeats The Russian while his neighbors watch in disbelief:
    Frank: I'm fine. [looks down at The Russian's body] He's not. [Frank falls over, unconscious]
  • Implacable Man: The Russian, a massive behemoth of a man who shrugs off punches, kicks, blunt force trauma, stab wounds, and walls as if they were minor nuisances. The only thing that seems to faze him (before getting tackled down the stairs) is getting several quarts of boiling water thrown in his face.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • The fight with The Russian has both combatants improvising weapons such as a wooden crate and a toilet.
    • Frank, at one point, uses a paper-cutter blade to kill a mook. To be clear, it looked like a machete.
  • Ironic Name: The entire Saint family are, well, lets just say, anything but saints.
  • Ironic Nickname: Cutter, the man left at the apartment to kill Frank, has his head cut open by Frank.
  • It Was a Gift: 13 years ago before the story starts, Frank had bought a Rolex for his friend Jimmy as thanks for being saved by him in battle. Jimmy gifts him one in return as a retirement gift. Thus Frank takes it personally when he notices Jimmy is no longer wearing his. After confronting his former friend for his betrayal and forcing him to shoot himself, Frank leaves his own Rolex next to Jimmy's corpse.
  • Karma Houdini: Jimmy Weeks, in the theatrical version. It leaves out a sub-plot where Howard Saint had blackmailed Weeks over the latter's money issues, making it seem like Weeks was innocent and Glass was able to figure out how to find Castle on his own, appearing with a file in hand. In the Extended Cut, it restores the sub-plot and Frank would figure it out and went to Weeks's apartment, where he forces him to shoot himself.
  • Karmic Death: Howard Saint really gets it, along with Quentin and Livia, who both died by his hands.
  • Kick the Dog: Howard Saint (after prompting by wife Livia) responding to Frank Castle killing his son in self-defense by ordering his entire family massacred.
  • Leitmotif: Saint's wife Livia has one. The Punisher himself gets a very memorable one.
  • Logo Joke: The Marvel logo features comic-book images of the Punisher in its pages; after it fully forms, it is shot three times and "bleeds" white paint which forms the Punisher's skull, and the film's title. Seen here
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: Castle's apartment contains his tools, weapons and little else. Weeks' apartment is even emptier.
  • Made of Iron:
  • Magical Negro: There is a brief reference to a 'Witch Doctor' living off on an island near the Puerto Rico resort. He later saves Castle after he's gotten a round straight to the chest, near the heart, and left to die after a massive explosion on the pier he was on. After Frank's recovery, he never shows up again. The novelization explains that the man simply likes his privacy.
  • Mercy Kill: Upon finding out Frank's alive, Howard Saint believes that he's invoking this trope aside from his revenge.
    Howard: He misses his family and he wants to die. He's asking for help, so let's help him.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The reason Saint killed Castle's family was because he thought Castle killed his son. But he didn't (a thug was shot by the FBI team and fired his gun on Bobby Saint)!
    • CinemaSins lampshades this while reviewing the movie, saying that Frank was just there when Saint's son got killed.
    • Downplayed as Castle was the one who led Bobby into the ambush, but it's also Bobby's fault for being there to purchase contraband weapons.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Thomas Jane spent a lot of time building up his physique for the film, and spends a lot of time shirtless.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Mickey turns into The Mole for Frank, who correctly guesses that Mickey doesn't want to spend the rest of his life as Howard Saint's lackey. He plays a crucial part in getting the pieces together to make Frank's Batman Gambit against Howard Saint work. In the novelization, it's explained that Mickey also resents the Saints because his father died working for them.
    Mickey: I hate the Saints. All of them.
  • Mood Whiplash: The blowtorch-and-popsicle scene. Frank strings Mickey up by his ankles and gives him a To the Pain speech about how a blowtorch kills the nerves so quickly you don't feel pain. He then points the blowtorch at a steak and runs a popsicle up and down Mickey's back. Mickey screams in horrible agony and very quickly talks. Then Frank sticks the popsicle in Mickey's mouth and walks off.
    Mickey: You...are not a nice man!
  • Mook Promotion: Lincoln, the Mook who killed Frank's dad, seems to have been promoted to The Dragon for Saint after he kills Quentin.
  • Morality Pet: Joan, Bumpo, and Dave serve as Frank's. Even though he scares the living bejeezus out of them and stays emotionally distant, he shows he still has some humanity when he helps them from time to time. When he sets off at the end, he leaves them with money he stole from the Saints.
  • Money to Throw Away: Frank appears to be Robbing the Mob Bank, but we then see him using a Hollywood Glass Cutter to cut a hole in the window, which he forces the mobsters to throw the money (aside from a briefcase of it) through onto the street outside. The two goons guarding the lobby only realize what's happening when everyone in the building rushes outside to grab the falling cash.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The colossal blond hitman known simply as "The Russian" (who is almost impervious to pain).
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Livia Saint, played by former Miss USA Laura Harring. Livia even undresses herself before having sex with Howard after believing they were victorious in killing Frank.
    • Joan as well, played by former model Rebecca Romijn. She tends to wear tight-fitting outfits that emphasize her figure.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Frank admits that he tricked him into killing Quentin and Livia, Saint sobbed the first two words.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Joan's crazy ex-boyfriend (cited on IMDb as "Tattooed Mike") shows up in her apartment building, harassing her, with only her front door between him and her. An unarmed Frank casually tells him to leave.
    Frank: Hey... get out.
    Mike: [approaches Frank, brandishing a butterfly knife]
    Frank: [punches Mike in the face, then takes the knife from his hands as he staggers] You shouldn't play with knives. [bops Mike on the nose with the hilt]
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: "You are one dumb son of a bitch. Bringing a knife to a gunfight." Little did Harry Heck know, it was a spring-loaded ballistic knife.
  • No-Sell: The Russian takes a knife to the shoulder and appears to be more annoyed than hurt.
  • One-Man Army: Frank takes on an entire building full of Hired Guns in the climax single-handedly.
  • Papa Wolf: Not just the title character, but Saint is a dark example since his son's death is what triggered his vendetta against the Castle Family. There is also Frank Sr. who, along with Frank, was able to take out many of Saint's mooks. Even though he took a shotgun blast to the back, Frank Sr. used the last of his strength to knife a man that was going after Frank.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Not only is a botched police raid the reason for the entire plot, but both the Miami PD and the FBI are utterly useless in stopping the Saints’ attack on the Castle family or prosecuting them afterwards, and Frank calls them out on it when he comes back from the dead. The Director's Cut also shows that Castle's best friend is working for the Saints.
      Frank: In certain extreme situations, the law is inadequate. In order to shame its inadequacy, it is necessary to act outside the law. To pursue natural justice.
    • The police seem pretty useless at finding Frank after he guns down two men in public, though the mob have no problem sending hitmen to his apartment.
  • Protagonist Title: Frank Castle is the protagonist who becomes the Punisher, a vigilante, after the murder of his family.
  • Rasputinian Death: Castle makes sure that Howard Saint does not die quickly. First he shoots him, then ties him to a car and sends him rolling into his own used car-lot full of burning vehicles. After Saint catches fire, Castle sets off a final explosive that finishes him.
  • Re-Cut: An extended cut of the film was released on DVD in 2006; it featured seventeen minutes of additional footage that fills in some of the plot holes (such as one that revolves around Jimmy Weeks, Frank's best friend, and Frank realizing that it was Weeks that sold him out to Howard Saint), features an animated introduction that follows Frank's time in Kuwait (based on the work of artist Tim Bradstreet), and generally improves on the film as compared to its theatrical cut.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: After Howard carries out Liv's wish to massacre the Castle family, she presents herself to Howard in a very skimpy negligee.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Howard was content to simply have Frank killed in return for the death of his son, but it was his wife who insisted that Frank's entire family had to die, too.
  • Rich Bitch: Livia Saint. She's the one who wants to see Frank's entire family dead in retaliation for the death of her son.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Downplayed with Howard Saint and his wife. Apparently they do the same thing every week, just on time. Not obsessively, but Mickey describes Howard as "a man of strict habits." This predictability makes it easy for Frank to get ahead of them and make things look however he wants. It's implied that part of this is Howard being possessive (see Crazy Jealous Guy above) and needing to know every move Livia makes.
  • Senseless Violins: Harry Heck's introductory scene sets this trope up, with Frank eyeing him cautiously as he sets down a guitar case and pops it open to reveal... a guitar, which he then uses to play a song about Frank's inevitable death as a friendly warning that Heck is there to to kill him.
  • Serious Work, Comedic Scene: This is a serious and dramatic comic book adaptation. However, there's a humorous moment near the end of the film when Frank tells his neighbor Joan that he's leaving to continue his work. He suggests that she read her newspaper everyday, and when she asks which section, he says the obituaries.
  • Silent Antagonist: Unlike the comics and video games, this incarnation of The Russian has no dialogue.
  • Sleeping with the Boss's Wife: Invoked by Frank Castle, who stages things to manipulate mob boss Howard Saint into believing that his right-hand man is having an affair with his spouse Livia. The minion was actually a closeted gay man, which Howard didn't know, but his wife did. He doesn't believe her when she brings this up, thinking she's tarnishing his friend's memory, and kills them both, only to be horrified when he discovers the truth from Frank later.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Once Dave gets subjected to getting his piercings ripped out by Quentin Glass in an attempt to make him tell him of Frank's whereabouts, Bumpo has to take him to the hospital, where they remain until the end of the film.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Harry Heck is a tribute to Johnny Cash's character in Five Minutes to Live (a.k.a. Door to Door Maniac).
    • Frank Castle's wife and son are run over by a vehicle, and Frank arrives too late to save them. Wonder where that came from?
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Frank's Batman Gambit against the Saints is very similar to Iago's plan in Othello. See Guile Hero above for how.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Castle's fight with The Russian is drowned out by Verdi's "La donna è mobile".
  • Stealing the Handicapped Spot: Invoked by Frank Castle: he follows Livia Saint as she's going to the theater, then steals her car, drives it somewhere else, and pulls out a fake fire hydrant that he places next to it so that she gets ticketed. The tickets then come up later, used as "evidence" that she wasn't where she said she was.
  • Suspicious Spending: Inverted in the Extended Cut. Frank doesn't suspect anything about Weeks until he notices that his former partner no longer owns many of his luxury items, including his Rolex and his beloved Porsche. He sells them off to cover his immense gambling debt, which is what Saint uses to blackmail him into betraying Frank.
  • That Man Is Dead
    The Punisher: Those who do evil to others — the killers, the rapists, psychos, sadists — you will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher.
  • Think Happy Thoughts: At the end of the film, Castle has killed all the criminals responsible for his family's deaths, and thinks he has nothing further to live for. He puts a gun to his own head, but a memory of his wife prevents him from pulling the trigger.
    Joan: Good memories can save your life.
  • Title Drop: At the end of the film, Frank Castle accepts his fate as a wanted vigilante by forsaking his name and calling himself The Punisher.
  • To the Pain: Frank Castle interrogates low-level mob gofer Mickey Duka by making a show of turning on an oxy-acetylene torch and going behind the mook to burn his back, explaining to him that "You won't feel the pain at first, you'll just feel... cold." He pretends to start burning off his skin as he asks questions, all the while he's just pointing the torch at a raw steak and touching his victim's skin with a popsicle to simulate being burned. Mickey talks.
  • Torture for Fun and Information: The Punisher strings minor Mook Mickey Duka up by his ankles and explains that a blowtorch will kill nerves so quickly that the victim doesn't feel pain so much as a sense of numbness. He then lights his blowtorch behind Duka so he can't see, directs it at a raw piece of meat, and drags a Popsicle along the man's back. Mickey almost instantly gives up everything he knows, totally convinced he can smell his flesh burning even as it's numbed by the intense heat. In this case, the Punisher uses intense mental anguish rather than physical agony, but the pain was just as real and probably more severe. This is directly taken from the comic book.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: In contrast to the blowtorch-and-popsicle scene, the one scene of actual torture proves completely useless. Quentin Glass rips all David's piercings out with pliers, one by one, and when he still refuses to give up Frank's location, Quentin wrongly infers that Dave doesn't know anything.
  • Tranquil Fury: While Frank's entire revenge is one big example, special mention goes to the scene where Quentin Glass and his gang torture Frank's neighbor David for info. David says nothing to rat out Frank and has all his piercings removed — with pliers. In return, the henchman left guarding the complex gets brutally cleaved in the head with a paper cutter by Frank, who moments before was forced to watch the poor guy through the entire torture, even blaming himself for the whole ordeal.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Some deleted scenes show how Howard Saint finds Frank's hideout: he blackmails Frank's FBI buddy through his gambling debts.
  • True Companions: Frank doesn't believe he's friends with his neighbors. That changes when he gets to know them after he helped with Joan's boyfriend problem and left them some of the stolen mob money he took early in the film. This is cemented for him after the bad guys round up his neighbors and apply some Cold-Blooded Torture to Dave to find out where Castle is. The guy doesn't talk. Later, Castle demands to know why. The reply? "'re one of us. You're family."
  • The Unfought: The Toro brothers, who run an illegal gambling and pimping business, and are major clients of Howard Saint's money laundering. But given that Frank is just starting his war on crime, it is likely they'll be next on The Punisher's hitlist.
  • Victory Sex: Howard and Livia Saint have sex to celebrate avenging their son's death by killing Frank Castle's entire family (unaware that Frank has survived and is far less pleased about this than they are).
  • Villainous Breakdown: Saint suffers one once he realizes Frank is alive and well, and has begun targeting his criminal empire. It comes to a head when Saint kills his best friend and cruelly kills his wife, after being led to believe they've been cheating on him.
  • Villainous Virtues: Howard Saint loves his family very much, and grieves greatly when his son Bobby is killed early on. Unfortunately, he is also a cruel and vindictive gangster.
  • Villain Song: "In Time", sung by Harry Heck.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Punisher to the Tampa Police. Before he even plans his revenge, he wanted to check how the cops were looking into it, and judging by how mad he looks, they didn't even start.
    Frank Castle: It's been five months since my family's been murdered. I don't see one man in jail.
    Chief Morris: Obviously you're upset.
    Frank Castle: Upset? Is that the word? I used to get upset. When I got a flat tire, when a plane was delayed. I used to get upset when the Yankees won the series. So if that's what upset means, what am I feeling now? If you know the word, tell me, because I don't.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Joan and Frank meet for the first time when he runs off her abusive ex-boyfriend with a haymaker to the face.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The team sent to kill Frank's family even kill his ten-year-old son by running him over as the boy's trying to escape with his mother.
    • There's even a prior instance when one of these hitmen finds three other family members, among them a child as old as Frank's son, promptly gunning them down.
  • You Have Failed Me: Howard executes Bobby's bodyguard for not keeping a closer eye on his son. The guard, prior to receiving a fatal bullet, tries to claim that Bobby wanted to impress his father, but that only prompts an angry Howard to finish him off in disgust.
    Howard: "My son didn't need to impress me."
  • You Killed My Father: The plot is kickstarted by Howard Saint blaming Frank for the death of his son. Frank's desire for revenge in turn is driven by the fact that the Saints murdered his entire family. Also, when Frank fights the man who personally killed his father, he makes a deliberate point to kill him slowly and gruesomely.