actor with handsome, everyman good looks and undeniable screen
presence, Thomas Jane has turned up in everything from low-budget
indies to sprawling, big-budget Hollywood action spectacles.
The Baltimore native's unusual entry into show business found
him cast in a Romeo and Juliet-inspired Bollywood musical
while still in high school. At just 17 years old, Jane was
spotted by a pair of Indian producers looking to cast a young,
fair-haired American to act as Romeo to a young Indian actress'
Juliet. Alas, the lure of Bollywood weighed heavier than the
prospect of another year in high school, so Jane soon dropped
out to film Padamati Sandhya Ragam in Madras, India. When
filming wrapped, he quickly returned stateside despite some
tempting offers in India, and a year later, the struggling
actor was making the move to Los Angeles.
work in L.A. didn't prove easy, but thanks to persistence
and hard work, Jane eventually made his way into the local
theater scene. A small role in the gay-themed drama I'll Love
You Forever...Tonight was followed by a small part in the
1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two short years later,
he stepped into the lead for the quirky crime comedy At Ground
Zero, and a role in the ill-fated Crow sequel The Crow: City
of Angels followed in 1996. The next year, Jane was cast in
the major starring role of real-life beatnik Neal Cassady
for the independent film, The Last Time I Committed Suicide
with Keanu Reeves. By late 1997, Jane's star was steadily
rising thanks to supporting parts in Face/Off and Boogie Nights.
In 1998, he went indie once again with a role as a former
heroin dealer looking to go straight in Thursday and then
took a small part in the all-star ensemble cast of the war
drama The Thin Red Line.
his role as a shark wrangler in the open-water thriller Deep
Blue Sea in 1999, Jane graduated to full-on Hollywood action
hero. After returning to Paul Thomas Anderson's fold for Magnolia
later that year, he portrayed baseball legend Mickey Mantle
in the acclaimed, made-for-HBO feature 61* (2001). His role
as a quick-tempered detective working alongside Morgan Freeman's
character in Under Suspicion (2000) found Jane at the top
of his game, and though performances in The Sweetest Thing
(2002) and Dreamcatcher (2003) went largely unseen due to
poor box-office performances, audiences could rest assured
that they would see plenty of the newly buff actor when he
donned the famous skull T-shirt and loaded up to rid the streets
of crime in the comic book adaptation The Punisher (2004).
Jane is excellent as Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. He's
tough, he handles the action well, and he more than looks
the part. He's a great choice for the role. In his first scene,
though, I had my doubts. We first see him undercover as a
Eurotrash arms dealer with blonde hair, a pastel suit, sandals,
and a bad accent. It wasn't encouraging. However, as soon
as he turns to the Dark Side he totally becomes the character.
I think Punisher fans will be pleased with him. I also liked
the fact that after Frank inevitably gets his revenge, they
show his character contemplating suicide. After all, what
does he have left to live for once he has his revenge? I'm
glad they covered it, not only because it justifies a sequel
but also because it is an important step in developing the
I was afraid that John Travolta would steal
the movie in the way that Jack Nicholson as the Joker stole
Batman. That wasn't the case at all. He wasn't on the screen
more than he needed to be, and when he is there he plays the
bad guy well. He is supported by Will Patton as Quentin Glass.
He's a rather surprising bad guy with a few secrets that are
revealed along the way. Laura Harring plays Livia Saint, Travolta's
beautiful wife with a shocking evil streak. There's one scene
where she comes out of nowhere and delivers one of the most
dramatic lines of the movie. You don't expect it to come from
her. Then there are Saint's bizarre assassins. There's Mark
Collie as Harry 'Heck' Thornton, a guitar-playing killer that
ends up getting dispatched in a creative way. There's also
wrestler Kevin Nash as The Russian. I have to say that I hate
this character in the comics. The comic character is way over
the top and in later issues they even show him with enormous
breasts. No, I'm not kidding. But as much as I hate the comic
character, I thought he was great in the film. He has a classic
fight with Frank Castle that ends up being one of the highlights
of the movie.
far as the good guys go, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos leads them
as Joan 'The Mouse'. She does a good job with the role and
provides a conscience for Frank Castle. I was glad to see
that they didn't have her become a love interest for Frank.
It wouldn't have fit their characters at all. Providing comic
relief in the otherwise dark tale are Ben Foster as Spacker
Dave and John Pinette as Bumpo. In fact, I was quite surprised
at just how much humor there really was in the movie. Great
laughs are sprinkled here and there throughout and they give
the characters heart and elevate the movie from a standard
bloody action flick to something a little bit more.
a great action flick. Besides the awesome fight with the Russian,
there's a cool car chase with Harry Heck. The final battle
between Frank and Saint's men is also intense and impressive.
What makes it additionally memorable is the fact that it is
played out realistically. Frank Castle is not superhuman.
He really only survives his deadly fights through dumb luck
or good planning. He's probably the most realistic character
from the Marvel Comics movies.