I love 2004’s iteration of “The Punisher” starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle also known as The Punisher. It’s a slow boiled crime thriller that eventually transforms in to a chaotic bloodbath with seemingly no limits on its cruelty. And it also has an admirable demented sense of humor. After 2004’s film, Thomas Jane dropped out of the role after a brouhaha with the studios and their direction toward the sequel that was apparently so bad and or radical that Jane just couldn’t abide by it. But since then many fans have argued that Thomas Jane’s performance of Frank Castle is the definitive cinematic performance of the character and his turn as Castle was admirable. It was layered, tragic, searing, bold, and genuine.
Thomas Jane invested in the character and turned the Punisher from a shoot em up thug in to someone who knew how to create a war before sneaking in and taking down his enemies. “Dirty Laundry” is an unofficial short sequel to “The Punisher.”
In the end of Jane’s film, Castle leaves the confines of Malibu and in the final scene he’s entered in to New York City prepared to show a new wave of criminals what true punishment is. In “Dirty Laundry,” we see Jane as the man who may or may not be Frank Castle who walks in to what may or may not be New York, prepared to punish some thugs. Jane stars as a man who wanders in to a city laundromat doing his laundry filled with black shirts.
All around him crime wages as a woman is raped by a local gang who then begin to physically harass a young boy who refuses to sell drugs for them. After witnessing the carnage, the dark man has had just about enough of the violence and inflicts his own punishment on them for corrupting his peaceful day. And he does so in about as brutal a way as possible. The movie doesn’t name Jane as Castle or the Punisher to (as I read it) avoid lawsuits and trademark infringement, but the purpose of Jane is apparent, and made even more so when the final scene reveals who this mysterious man doing his laundry is.
Thom Jane has been quoted as saying that “Dirty Laundry” is not the beginning of a return to the character’s shoes. If that’s the case, then “Dirty Laundry” is a wonderful follow-up to the 2004 film where we can finally see where the Punisher ended up and how much true enforcement he’s laying down on the dregs of humanity in New York. Jane is the best cinematic Punisher we’ve had so far, and this short reprisal of the role is brilliant. If this isn’t a call for Thom Jane to return to the role he perfected, then at least it’s a nice little bit of fan service for movie audiences who wonder what happened when The Punisher rolled in to New York City. This is a short gem worthy of the Punisher fanbase.