Phil Joanou | 10 mins | streaming | 3:1 | USA / English
Unveiled at San Diego ComicCon and then released on YouTube in July 2012, Dirty Laundry is an unofficial short film starring Marvel character the Punisher. It’s a fan film, really, but the twist is it’s made by the production company of Thomas Jane, star of the 2004 film version of The Punisher, who reprises the role too.
A short tale clearly inspired by so many Westerns (Frank Castle, the Punisher, sees bad stuff going down, doesn’t want to get involved, but then realises he Has To), it’s designed as a tribute to the character, who’s arguably been ill-served by the three big screen versions to date. I presume it’s also meant to act as some kind of proof-of-concept pitch, though I’ve not specifically seen anyone involved in its production say that. The subtext, however, is that this is how the makers believe a Punisher movie should be done.
For that reason you’d assume the director was some young up-and-comer, eager to prove what he can do. In fact, Joanou is 50, directed U2’s Rattle and Hum documentary in the ’80s, helmed some films no one’s heard of and a couple of episodes of TV shows no one’s heard of, and his last work was The Rock crime/sport drama Gridiron Gang in 2006. Which just goes to show you shouldn’t assume things.
The one glaring flaw (unless you hate realistic CGI-aided bloody violence, in which case there’s that too) is its use of music from Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight score. It kind of works, but it’s such an iconic and unique score that it’s instantly recognisable, which is distracting. If they can produce a professionally-shot 10-minute film with professional actors, why couldn’t they get someone to do some music? Or at least use unfamiliar library tracks?
Considering it breaks both Marvel/Disney’s character copyright and WB’s music copyright, and thanks to starring Proper Actors & That it’s been relatively high-profile, it’s a miracle it’s still on YouTube after all this time. It’s a fairly effective depiction of a fan-favourite character, though, so long may it remain.