Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, starring Tom Jane, John Travolta, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Laura Elena Harring.

Marvel Comics' no-superpowers-but-plenty-of-guns hero The Punisher previously made it to the screen in a 1989 film starring Dolph Lundgren that went straight to video in the US and over here. If there really was any of the kind of justice that the vigilante hardnut is so keen to dispense, this travesty would've received the exact same treatment.

Retiring from the FBI, Special Agent Frank Castle (Jane) plans to relocate with his family to London after a holiday in the Caribbean. But one of the fatalities from Castle's last sting operation was the son of gang boss Howard Saint (Travolta) and Saint's trophy wife Livia (Harring) demands that all of Castle's clan should be wiped out in revenge. And so a family reunion turns into a bloodbath, with a half-dead Castle the only one to escape. Returning to the US, Castle moves into a rundown neighbourhood, gets a black t-shirt with a skull on it, loads every gun in his not-so-miniature arsenal and gets plotting.

"Go with God," a character tells Castle before he sets out to settle his scores. "God," replies Castle, "is going to sit one this one out." Well, entertainment doesn't make it off the bench either and 'The Punisher' proves to be the weakest recent big screen excursion for any Marvel hero.

With a script that collapses as it tries to do the 'Blade' trick of being dark and funny at the same time, the best thing about this film turns out to be its website. Making a mess of a strong cast, rookie director Hensleigh wastes every actor's talent, with the whole thing so painfully familiar that anyone who spent the 1980s watching action movies might leave the cinema swearing they have a sixth sense.

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. Leftovers like this don't count.

Harry Guerin