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Punisher scripts compared!

Punisher 04

Jun 22, 2004
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Source: Moviehole.net

Date : December 5, 2007 Writer : Clint Morris

'Kent' dropped us a line to ask whether he could compare two of the drafts of "The Punisher" for us. Thought you'd enjoy the read - knowing what the differences are - so I nodded my noggin in approval. Here 'tis.

The Punisher : WarZone - Comparative Piece

A couple of weeks ago, I did a positive review for the Punisher sequel/reboot script which is currently shooting and starring the very cool Ray Stevenson.

Many fans of the old Pun have been quite vocal about their dislike for the fact that 2004 lead Tom Jane is not back as Castle. There are various reports that he quit/left the project because Lionsgate wouldn’t let him explore the character the way he wanted to. Others say it was a monetary issue.

Whatever reason, he ain’t playing the Punisher, and this script that was initially going to be shot in 2005 by original helmer Jonathan Henleigh, will never get made…and thank God for small miracles.

I decided to review this script as a comparative piece. Everyone has been saying the Hensleigh version couldn’t have been that bad. Guess again.

This draft runs a scant 91 pages and it feels like he could not be bothered writing a screenplay to a movie that was not successful to begin with.

We open on Frank in the desert, hunting down two criminal scumbag brothers who have just robbed an armored car. Hensleigh, still preoccupied with turning Frank into Leone’s Man Without a Name, has a High Noon-style showdown on the third page. Yawn!!!

We then cut to New York, where some mobsters are having a little get-together. Frank drives his Punisher mobile through the front doors and guns them down with a chain-fed mini-gun. Everyone in the room is turned into chopped liver, except Billy Russo – a pretty boy gangster who’s more interested in his looks than anything else.

The opening act of the script ends with Frank driving his car into the Hudson after being chased by some pesky cops. The lead Detective in question is Stevie West, a female cop – and potential love interest for Frank.

She spends the better part of this mess sitting in her office or talking to her law professor father – who’s got “victim” written so big on his forehead that pilots would be able to see it from Turkey.

Now, since Frank has wasted all the mobsters, Billy Russo becomes head goombah and decides it’s time to clear out the competition. Posing as an anonymous citizen, he calls Frank and tips him off about various shady dealings. Faster than you can say “lightning”, Frank has dispatched the villains in question – and has successfully got rid of Billy’s rivals.

Sensing he’s been used when he is ambushed (duh!!!), Frank corners Billy in a suit store, and smashes his face on a mirror. A standard mirror. Somehow this mystical mirror slices off half of Billy’s face and one of his ears?????!!!!!! WTF?????!!!!!!!!!

Faster than The Flash, Hensleigh decides he’s out of ideas and does a Batman rip off. Billy wakes up in a hospital and asks for the mirror. Everyone’s scared to give it to him. He screams for the mirror again. The doctor takes a nervous gulp and gives him said mirror. To his shock, Billy discovers his face is now a tangled mess of twisted flesh and bone.

This scene felt like a badly Xeroxed copy of the classic Nicholson scene from Tim Burton’s ‘89 masterpiece – albeit, sans the great character, actor and director.

Now out of hospital, and down one plastic surgeon, Russo begins an all out assault on New York. His first port of call is getting some evidence from the police lock up that implicates him in a murder. He can’t very well rule NYC if he’s behind bars.

Russo kidnaps Stevie’s dad (told you so) and makes her get this gun back. Before it’s all played out, Frank ambushes them and the gang have a massive shoot out in a Walmart. Double WTF???????!!!!!!!!!!!

To say I hated this script would be harsh. I disliked it greatly.

The main problems are the fact that Castle feels like a background character. He pops up here and there but he does nothing. There’s no great action set pieces, there’s no dark humor, although Hensleigh tries by having a standee of Wolverine and Spiderman take a bullet in the climatic shootout.

Laughing yet? Didn’t think so.

Also, there’s a rather ludicrous tacked on sub plot about a Priest who is butchering people who he thinks are sinners. I guess this was done to show Frank is not some psycho, but it’s never explained or fleshed out like everything else in this disaster.

Also, Hensleigh seems to have trouble with vigilantes and what they do. Like in the first film where Frank says it Punishment, not vengeance. His actions are once again questioned and put under a microscope by Stevie’s dad. These scenes are boring and pointless. In the comics Frank did what he did because he was pushed too far. That worked plain and simple. Trying to give him further motivation is a worse idea than having Druids be in control of Michael Myers.

Another big problem is the fact that Russo is never called Jigsaw, and he doesn’t become deformed until bag 60. The script never has fun with his face or his character. At least in the reboot I reviewed a few weeks ago, Jigsaw is called Jigsaw – and we get a reason why. In this steamer, there’s never an explanation.

The shoot out in the Walmart also gets ridiculous.

People start getting chopped up with forklifts and knives. It sounds interesting, but it’s not.

There’s also a little bit during the end credits where Frank takes on the murderous Priest. How does it end???

With Frank’s now groan-inducing one liner: “God’s gonna sit this out.”

Thanksfully Lionsgate decided to sit this one out. If they’d produced this script instead of the one they went with, Punisher fans would have been bitterly disappointed.

I know I was.

It looks like AD beat me to the post. Mod please close my thread, thanks.:lips:
I remember reading that whole script a few months ago. It had a lot of eye rolling moments. I'd like to read the current shooting script to see what for changes were made.
Can someone please finally get around to leaking the Hensleigh script online?
I had the Hensleigh script for a while. I lost it when my other laptop went kablewy.
I remember reading that whole script a few months ago. It had a lot of eye rolling moments. I'd like to read the current shooting script to see what for changes were made.
I know what you mean. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet when I read it.

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