- The Punisher (Frank Castle) (First appearance)
- Frank Castle Sr. (Only appearance; dies)
- Maria Castle (First appearance)
- Will Castle (First appearance)
- Betty Castle (Only appearance; dies)
- Joan (Only appearance)
- Dave (Only appearance)
- Mr. Bumpo (Only appearance)
- Mickey Duka (First appearance)
- Bobby Saint (First appearance) (Death)
- Quentin Glass (Only appearance; dies)
- John Saint (Only appearance) (Apparent death)
- Howard Saint (Only appearance; dies)
- Livia Saint (Only appearance; dies)
- Mike Toro (Only appearance; dies)
- Joe Toro (Only appearance; dies)
- Harry Heck (Only appearance; dies)
- The Russian (Only appearance; dies)
- 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.
One night in Tampa, Florida, Mickey leads the young Bobby Saint to an arms deal. The deal is brokered by a man named Otto Krieg, who speaks with an accent due to his knowledge of six languages. The exchange goes bad when FBI suddenly burst into the scene, and agitated, Otto pulls out a gun. The police fire back, killing everyone except the cowardly Mickey, who is terrified when he sees Bobby's body.
The bodies are taken away, but Otto Krieg stands up unharmed and speaks with an unaccented voice that he hated the undercover jobs he's always been taking. Otto Krieg is really revealed to be Frank Castle (in disguise), an FBI agent who is just retiring. This case had been his last, and he was upset at the death of the young man. The police are ill at ease when they discover who the young man is, Robert Saint, son of crime lord Howard Saint. When the news reaches the Saint family, the second son Johnny orders Mickey to be bailed out. Mickey is taken by the Saints to a club and beaten. He explains to Quentin Glass that Robert "Bobby" Saint came of his free will and that Otto Krieg, the man responsible for the deal, is dead. Howard is still unsatisfied and kills another man who was supposed to be responsible for his son in front of Mickey.
Meanwhile, Frank returns to his family, his lovely wife Maria and young son. Frank knows he has been neglecting them and forcing them to move constantly, but he promises London would be the last place to move to. Before that, though, they will go to a family reunion in Puerto Rico.
Howard Saint goes to confirm his son's body, and when the police proved unwilling to share information with him, he orders his own men to find out everything about Otto Krieg. At the funeral of his son, Quentin informs Howard that Otto Krieg was a fake, that his real name is Frank Castle. Howard orders him killed, but his wife Livia adds that the whole family must also die. Howard agrees while Johnny decides to go to Puerto Rico with the other assassins.
The assassins arrive just in time for another family outdoor beach party. Frank had gone inside with his father to look at some guns, but they hear the gunshots. Though they fire back, they are unable to rescue anyone. The assassins completely slaughter the family, and though Maria and her son managed to escape onto a car and drive away, the assassins eventually catch up and run them over. Frank, distracted by a knife fight, arrives too late and only sees their bodies. The assassins return and Johnny beats and shoots Frank himself, telling him "My father and mother send their regards". Quentin then torches the place, and they leave Frank for dead, not knowing that the explosion actually blasted Frank into the water. They return to the Saints & Sinners club, where they toast to "a score settled", and Howard gives Livia a pair of diamond earrings to celebrate.
Candelaria, one of the Castle family's friends, rescues Frank and after he recovers takes him back to the Castle house. Frank picks up the guns his father had been showing him, as well as the T-shirt with a skull that his son had given him. Filled with anger, he is determined to have revenge and returns to America. He moves to a poor run down neighborhood, where he starts modifying guns, the apartment he lives in, and his car. Frank's actions catch the interest of his friends, the opera-loving fat Bumpo, the piercing-covered skinny Spacker Dave, and the tired lovely Joan.
Frank kidnaps Mickey and threatens to burn him if he does not tell him about the Saints. Mickey first refuses, so Frank fakes the torture (using an ice pop) and Mickey starts screaming (which badly frightens Frank's neighbors). Mickey eventually gives in, telling him that Howard Saint relies on two Cuban brothers who control all gambling and prostitution up and down the Gulf coast. They give the money to Howard, who transports it to his banks in Grand Canyon and "washes it". Frank releases Mickey, who discovers he was never really hurt, and freely talks about the Saints - whom he claims he hates. With the information about the family's schedule and their closest friend Quentin Glass, Frank starts following them and taking photos. He learns about Howard's golf schedule, Livia's movie nights, and Quentin's secret homosexual affair. Afterward, he drags his own gravestone out of the graveyard and plants it in Howard's golfing spot with the date of death removed.
Frank meanwhile confronts his former police colleagues in front of several reporters, asking why nobody was arrested for his family's death. Learning that the police were too afraid of taking the Saints head-on, Frank takes matters into his own hands. He sneaks into the Saints' bank building and orders the bankers by gunpoint to fill up a suitcase with money. The rest of it, he throws out the window, which draws in a noisy crowd trying to catch the money. Frank confronts two of Howard's hitmen and kills them, he escapes easily into the crowd. When the news spread, Spacker and Bumpo look up Frank's information and are instantly wary. Meanwhile, Howard is furious at the news and receives a warning by the Cuban brothers that if they lose more money they were switching bankers. Back in Frank's apartment, a drunk man bangs on Joan's door demanding to be let in. Bumpo and Spacker are scared, but Frank scares him away, and the neighbors warm up to him.
Setting his revenge in motion, Frank breaks into Livia's car and calls Quentin on her phone, threatening him to go to Winton hotel to get some photos "Mr. Saint would not want to see". He parks Livia's car illegally near the same hotel and gets a ticket for it. Howard, looking for Quentin and failing, is told by Micky that the man was at Winton hotel. He later spots Livia and Quentin talking and laughing together, and leaves slightly unnerved.
The next day, as Frank eats at the café Joan works at, a man comes in and starts playing a song for him. The man, Harry Heck, tells Frank the song will be played at his funeral. Taking the hint, Frank leaves the café, and after a car chase manages to kill Harry. A little more than annoyed, he goes to the next shipment of cash Saints is holding. Johnny and several men are there to ensure security, and aboard the ship Johnny finds a bomb with the sign "Front Toward Enemy". Johnny jumps off the boat just in time as it explodes, burning all the cash, and he sees Frank standing on a hill overlooking him.
Howard is agitated enough to start throwing things around, and the Cubans are mad enough to march right into his office. The two sides argue, Howard says they have had a good partnership but the business was one without insurance so he refused to cover their losses. Before the brothers leave he warns the them that he has more guns, but that was actually a bluff. Now willing to use all means, no matter the cost, he tells Quentin to call "The Russian."
Spacker asks Frank to help because the man after Joan is in her apartment. At first, he closes the door on him but reopens it seconds later and goes to the apartment, where he finds Joan and Bumpo there preparing a meal. They invite him for the meal, and after saying what they are thankful, they eat. Afterward, Spacker and Bumpo leave for dessert and Joan tells Frank to make good memories so that he is not always only driven by the bad. He tells her he is not what she's looking for, and leaves. Seeing that, Spacker and Bumpo try to cheer Joan up by making dessert and dancing to opera music. The music drowns out the fight happening in Frank's apartment as "the Russian" and Frank engage in a vicious fight. The fight eventually leads into the others' apartment, terrifying Joan and the others. Frank soon emerges victorious (by scarring his face from hot boiling and water and tackling him), but injured, and the three neighbors try to patch him up.
Meanwhile, Howard's men discover the corpse of "the Russian" and heads up. Joan and Frank hide in a secret room underground, while Spacker and Bumpo remain to deal with the men. Quentin questions the two and even tortures Spacker, pulling out all his piercings painfully, but Spacker insisted on not knowing where Frank is. Quentin finally believes him, and after leaving one of his men to report should Frank return, he leaves. When Frank recovers he quickly kills the man, then asks Spacker why he would help him. Spacker answers because they're neighbors and family. Bumpo takes him to the hospital, while Frank prepares his arms again, much to Joan's dismay. She asks how he's any different than the Saints, Frank replies they have something to lose. Joan realizes part of Frank's idea was to be killed in battle.
Again, Frank breaks into Livia's car and sets up the same trap for Quentin. Mickey, under Frank's orders, shows Howard the ticket on Livia's car at the Winston hotel. Howard remembers that Quentin was also there at the time and, suspicious, heads to Quentin's home. Meanwhile, as Quentin leaves his mansion, Frank breaks in. Howard goes in later and discovers the earring in Quentin's bed. When Quentin returns, Howard greets him at the stairs, startling the man. Howard tells him a story of how one person accuses another of cheating by breaking into their home, moving their furniture, and throwing a knife in the middle between the people involved. As he talks he moves Quentin's furniture and throws a knife on the coffee table. Quentin claims rightly that he never took a penny from Howard, who laughs and calls him a good actor. When Quentin refuses to pick up the knife, Howard swipes him with it. Snapping about how Quentin thought him as an idiot because Howard treated him like his brother, Howard stabs Quentin to death. When Livia returns home, she sees Howard throwing her things on the floor. He tells her he knows about "her and Quentin", that she was with his best friend. Upon seeing Quentin's body by the doorway, and when shown the ticket by Winston Hotel, she tells him that Quentin was gay. Howard does not believe her, only slapping her and dragging her out to the car. He reminisces about their history and her former prostitute status before they stop at a bridge and he throws her over the side of it onto train tracks, where she is quickly run over.
Howard goes to his club, where he offers his men money for the one who kills Frank. Alone in his office, Johnny asks where Quentin and Livia are, but his father outright lies to him. In a forest, Frank prepares himself for battle. He kills Howard's guards, then sets bombs to several cars and sneaks into the club. From upstairs one of the men order champagne from the small lever, and Frank sets a bomb in the bucket he sends up. When the bomb goes off, Frank rushes in, shooting anyone still left alive. He finds Johnny trapped and injured, and forces him to hold onto a bomb. Then he goes out and finds Howard, telling him he killed both his sons as behind him in the building, Johnny screams as the bomb goes off.
Frank shoots Howard and shows him the photos of Quentin's affair as well as Livia's other earring. Frank explains he made the man "kill his best friend" and wife. Then he ties Howard by the feet to the back of a car and drives him through the parking lot, setting off the bombs he earlier planted. The fires form the shape of the skull as Howard slowly burns to death.
Back at home, Frank is about to commit suicide and shoot himself when a memory of a blonde woman - either Maria or Joan - stops him. He decides to set himself a new path and leave. Meeting up with Joan, he tells her that she is right, good memories could save a life. He leaves, telling her he has a gift for all three of them. When Spacker is released from the hospital, they find wads of cash left for them.
- Thomas Jane - The Punisher (Frank Castle)
- John Travolta - Howard Saint
- Will Patton - Quentin Glass
- Rebecca Romijn - Joan
- Ben Foster - Spacker Dave
- John Pinette - Bumpo
- Samantha Mathis - Maria Elizabeth Castle
- Marcus Johns - Will Castle
- Russell Andrews - James "Jimmy" Weeks
- James Carpinello - Robert "Bobby" Saint / John Saint
- Laura Harring - Livia Saint
- Eddie Jemison - Micky Duka
- Eduardo Yáñez - Mike Toro
- Omar Avila - Joe Toro
- Kevin Nash - The Russian
- Mark Collie - Harry Heck
- Roy Scheider - Frank Castle Sr.
- Veryl Jones - Candelaria
- Tom Nowicki - Lincoln
- Hank Stone - Cutter
- The Punisher is a 2004 film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, starring Thomas Jane as the antihero Frank Castle / The Punisher and John Travolta as the villain Howard Saint, a money launderer who orders the death of Castle's entire family. The film is not a sequel to 1989's The Punisher, it is a reboot. The story and plot were mainly based on two Punisher comic book stories; Punisher Year One and "Welcome Back, Frank" along with scenes from other Punisher stories such as Marvel Preview: Featuring The Punisher #2, The Punisher War Zone and The Punisher War Journal. The film was released on April 16, 2004 by Lions Gate Entertainment, grossing $13,834,527 in the United States over its opening weekend. The Punisher received mainly negative reviews from film critics. A DVD release followed on September 7, 2004 with $10.8 million in copies sold.
- The Punisher was shot on location in Tampa in mid to late 2003. It is distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment in North America, although Artisan Entertainment, which produced the 1989's The Punisher, financed and co-distributed the film with Lionsgate, while Columbia Pictures distributed the film in non-North American countries. Director Jonathan Hensleigh agreed to helm the film during its development stage despite a dispute with Marvel Studios. The Punisher was rated R, making it one of the few Marvel Films to receive an "R" rating.
- The success of the DVD sales of the film prompted Marvel Comics and Lionsgate to start development on a sequel titled The Punisher 2, which instead became another reboot titled Punisher: War Zone after Jane and Hensleigh left the project due to creative differences and Kurt Sutter's script being rejected.
- The plate numbers on Frank's black Pontiac are "Year One"; a reference to the automotive customization company that worked on making the five GTOs for the film.[]
- Thomas Jane would later reprise his role as Frank Castle/The Punisher in a 2012 fan film called Dirty Laundry.
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