You’ve heard of basketball’s no-look pass? The hero of “The Punisher” has perfected the no-look massacre.

He’s Frank Castle, and he’s played by Tom Jane, who has a solid shot at next year’s best supporting torso Oscar (the main job of the costume designer for “The Punisher” appears to have been to withhold shirts).

Early in the film, Castle’s family is slaughtered and he responds by becoming the Punisher, a nonsuper-powered hero who blithely wastes baddies with the goal of, as he puts it, “Not vengeance. Punishment.”

All serial killers probably say the same thing, but at least the Punisher’s victims are authentically evil, especially the sleekly amoral John Travolta as the guy who offed Castle’s family.

You could argue that “The Punisher’s” main thrust isn’t much different from “Walking Tall,” which was also about vigilante “justice,” but I’d argue there’s a huge difference in tone.

Whereas “Walking Tall” grooved on its mayhem, “The Punisher” recognizes the cost of giving oneself over to violence.

Even when “The Punisher” encourages us to be entertained by its over-the-top violence, it isn’t asking us to chuckle at death but at the elaborate way the mayhem is choreographed.

The other major difference is that “The Punisher” is acted and directed with conviction. Jane’s performance is broody and still, but he’s surrounded by a lively cast, including – in a slightly-too-obvious bit of pandering to comic-book fans – two comic-book geeks who prove geekily heroic.

“The Punisher” has a fresh setting – Tampa, which, I guess, is why everyone has toxic tans – and it pays tribute to its Marvel Comics origins by sending a cartoonishly large number of goons at the Punisher (every mesomorph in Hollywood is in this movie).

Rated: R, for graphic violence, as well as raw language, drug use and partial nudity. Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

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