I can’t believe this is happening.
I’ve long maintained that The Punisher is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. So bad, in fact, that I didn’t even enjoy it in an “it’s so bad that it’s fun” kind of way:
The only good thing about the movie was Tom Jane’s performance as Frank Castle. Jane bulked up above and beyond the call of duty and gave all of his effort (and then some) to a script that deserved none of it.
(Okay, and I’ll admit the scene where Will Patton keeps telling John Travolta, “Howard, you’re killing me, why are you killing me, why are you killing me,” was pretty inadvertently hilarious. And Ben Foster, who played Angel in X-Men 3, was good in the only scene in the entire film where a character showed true courage.)
In the years since the film debuted, Tom Jane has talked in almost every interview he’s given about how he can’t wait to do the sequel, and how he knows how to top the first one and deliver something the fans will really be able to rally around.
It had gotten to the point where you felt like Tom Jane wanted The Punisher 2 as badly as Tom Arnold wants True Lies 2. (Because no matter how much you liked True Lies, Tom Arnold wants True Lies 2 a hell of a more than you do.)
Which is why I was so shocked to find Tom Jane telling Ain’t It Cool News that he’s dropping out of The Punisher 2:
“I’m writing to tell you that I regretfully and painfully had to pull out of [Punisher 2]. I can’t tell you how completely broken up I am about it. After busting my ass at the gym four days a week for almost two years, watching every character-driven action pic that any fan would ask me to watch while I was standing in line buying egg whites and tuna fish.”
After listing the films he’s been watching for inspiration, including a personal favorite of mine called Nighthawks with Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams, Jane goes on to add this:
“Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves.”
Yay for you, Tom Jane! I always did admire the dedication and loyalty he showed to the franchise and to the fans. He always wanted to make a good sequel for the fans, and you could always tell that in his heart he was putting the fans first. I respect that. A lot.
Tom Jane will persevere. Which is pretty easy to do, I’d imagine, when you’re married to Patricia Arquette. Nicely done, sir.
So who will become the new Punisher?
I’d like to suggest Tom Arnold.