I have only read a few stories of the punisher but you are probably right if that happened in the comicsc. Of course, it was the writers that kept him from saving the people. What is wrong with them?
In the comic it works really well. He is the personification of vengeance, and reflects Nietzsche's warning "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
The skill in writing such a character, is to still give him that spark of humanity, or 'goodness' that seprates him from those he hunts. But it has to be under the surface, like a shadow of the man he was.
Comic book writers like Garth Ennis can do that, and have the freedom of literally years to develop the depth of the character over a long running series. Hollywood writers are seldom as gifted, and what they do is then tinkered with by producers, directors, and even actors, all with their ideas of the character. This is why it is very rare for adaptations of any literature to be successful. It takes a very strong single vision to make it happen - Jackson with LOTR, Snyder with Watchmen. Sadly, The Punisher has never courted mainstream reverence like these works of fantasy, so the source material is never respected, and the films are made by executive committe's, not artists.
If you havent read much punisher, this would be a great place to start:http://www.amazon.com/Punisher-MAX-Vol-G...0968&sr=8-1
It is the material that set the tone for the recent movies, yet unlike on screen, Ennis pitches the character to perfection.