Hard-drinking, burnt-out ex-CIA operative John Creasy (Washington) has given up on life--until his friend Rayburn (Oscar winner Christopher Walken) gets him a job as a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning)... more ». Bit by bit, Creasy begins to reclaim his soul, but when Pita is kidnapped, Creasy unleashes a firestorm of apocalyptic vengeance against everyone responsible.« less
"Last wish? I wish... you had... more time!" (4.5 stars)
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 09/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Man On Fire" is an intense action thriller that takes you through hell and back. This is not a "happy" movie, and it's not pretty. It's extremely violent at times and the storyline is a reflection of a parent's worst nightmare--the kidnapping and possible murder of their child. While it can be over-stylish at times with fancy editing and camera work, it proves to be a more than effective thriller.
John Creasy used to work for the CIA, but now he's an alcoholic who doesn't think there's much to live for. This is due to the terrible things he has done in his line of work (we never know exactly what he did, but there are more than enough hints). Starting a new life in Mexico, his best friend finds him a job as a bodyguard to a nine-year-old girl since the family is worried about all of the kidnappings that have taken place in Mexico. The girl, Pita, takes a liking to Creasy right away, but he doesn't allow her in and treats her as nothing more than a job. Amazingly, he starts to get attached to Pita and finds a new reason to live. Not only is he her bodyguard, but he is almost like a second father to her.
Things drastically change when Pita gets kidnapped. Creasy does his best to take out the kidnappers when it happens, but is outnumbered and has been shot multiple times. While recovering in the hospital, he learns that the ransom for little Pita has gone sour and that her captors have most likely executed her. This sets off a rage inside Creasy like he has never experienced before. He checks himself out of the hospital and wages his own war against everybody who was involved in the kidnapping/murder of Pita. And he vows to kill every single one of them.
Tony Scott directs this intense and emotional thriller. He does a great job with the material and he knows how to get the performances that he wants from his actors. My complaint is that he goes a little overboard with the fancy camera work and editing at times, but that is something that can be overlooked. Denzel Washington gives one of his most powerful performances since "Training Day." He really makes you feel for his character, and his absolute hatred towards the people involved with the horrible kidnapping is done in an extremely realistic and convincing way. Dakota Fanning does a great job in her role of "Pita" and does well by playing opposite of Denzel. And, we cannot forget the great Christopher Walken who also does a superb job on his part. He plays it perfectly and does not try to steal any scenes from Washington.
It must be said, this is a vicious movie. It's not for people with weak stomachs. There is one scene in particular that makes the ear-cutting scene in "Reservoir Dogs" look like absolutely nothing. Denzel's character doesn't only want to murder the bad guys... he wants to make them suffer in the most horrific ways, and he does that many times. It's not a happy or cute movie. It will disgust a lot of people, so it's not for everyone. Make sure you keep that in mind if you decide to rent this. Other than the option to watch the movie in DTS and two commentary tracks, the DVD has no special features. It looks and sounds great. It would've been nice if they did more with the DVD in the special features department, though.
"Man On Fire" is a powerful and unforgiving thrill ride that will keep your heart pumping and your forehead sweating. Other than some of the flashy and fast editing/camera work, the movie really works. Again, this is not for anybody with weak stomachs. It is very disturbing and unsettling. If you're looking for a powerful thriller with a lot of "bang" and real emotion, then this is something to check out. As dark and brutal as this movie is, I really enjoyed watching this. -Michael Crane"
"A Bullet Always Tells The Truth..." A Harrowing Film!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 10/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Adapted from a 1980 novel by A.J. Quinnell and previously filmed as a 1987 vehicle for Scott Glenn, this re-make starts out with a random kidnapping in Mexico City of a well-off, young teen boy, flash-film storytelling of the kidnapper's dirty deed of graphically cutting off of the boy's ear that is subsequently sent to the boy's father, and a ransom drop being set up and accomplished...
Flash forward and enter Denzel Washington arriving in crime-ridden Mexico City as drunkard, burned out and severely depressed bodyguard, Creasy and Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam & Uptown Girls) as Creasy's young client and soon-to-be kidnapping victim, 9 year-old Pita.
After Creasy reticently accepts the bodyguard job he and Pita soon develop a close relationship, much to the chagrin and surprise of Creasy. During a shootout with corrupt police officers & other "bad guys", Creasy is shot within an inch of his life. Pita is abducted during the shooting and soon a ransom drop is coordinated but then terribly botched. Pita is presumably killed although no body is found.
Creasy avows to revenge the death of his young friend who made him live again, stop his drinking and made him truly happy just when Creasy was hitting rock-bottom.
Latino pop singer and Mr. Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony turns in a surprising and quite adequate performance as Pita's father, Samuel, Christopher Walken as understated Rayburn, Creasy's best friend and confidant and even Mickey Rourke as Samuel's bottom-feeding, family lawyer, Jordan. All turn in believable performances.
I am not an action film lover by any means but I truly enjoyed the story with it's ever twisting and turning plotline; no matter how predicable, the directing talents of Tony Scott (Top Gun, Crimson Tide and Mr. Ridley Scott's little brother), the flash image storytelling, overall cinematography and of course, the excellent performances from the actors - especially young Dakota Fanning's and Washington's rapport and chemistry between their two characters.
Happy Watching! "
Enter the world of Creasy a man about to redeem his soul...
Kali | United Kingdom | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a dark, clever and very surreal kind of movie. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got the chance to see a preview of it at a UK movie theatre this week.
It starts off as it means to go on, with the kidnapping of a teenage boy, his torture by his kidnappers, the payment of the ransom by his family and his release, a broken shell of the happy go lucky youth he used to be.
It is after this introduction we meet Creasy, played to perfection by the actor Denzel Washington. He is the tormented killer-come-bodyguard who is slowly drinking himself to death, a man who has forgotten how to live for as his friend Rayburn, the glorious Christopher Walken points out to a Police Officer, "Creasy is a man who has made an art out of killing..."
Dakota Fanning gives an excellent performance as Pita, the half Mexican, half American child who gets under Creasy's skin and into his heart and teaches him that it is okay to care and love another person.
When Pita is kidnapped and then murdered (or so Creasy thinks), a rage is born inside of Creasy that will only be quenched by the total annihilation of all those involved in her abduction.
With the help of a crusading reporter Mariana, the wonderful Rachel Ticotin and the cynical Manzano, a delicious Giancarlo Giannini, Creasy sets about enacting his vow and he does it in style!
This is not violence for the sake of violence, and though there is plenty of blood and guts flying, what surprised me was how well it was done! I am really quite squeamish and though there were a couple of times when I went, "OH YUCK" it certainly wasn't as bad I expected it to be and it fitted in TOTALLY with the plot.
Mickey Rourke plays the charming but sleazy lawyer Jordan and I was most impressed by Radha Mitchell who played Lisa, Pitas' mother, she reminded me of Tea Leoni, but with more class whilst Marc Anthony gives a solid performance as Sammy, Pita's weak but loving father and last but not least, Angelina Peláez who only has a bit part as the nun Sister Anna but who is able to see in to Creasy's soul and know he is a fallen angel.
"Man on Fire" is not an easy film to get your head around, the plot is quite complex, the cinematography is utterly surreal in parts, flickering in an out as we are treated to images both real and imagined and in the background there is the ever menacing present of corrupt public officials and a man know only as the "The voice" who has kept Mexico in thrall with his constant murderous kidnappings for profit.
The director Tony Scott has done a great job; I love this film with all its twists and turns, its many complex characters, the good but tormented soul, (Creasy), the innocent (the child Pita) the bad, (Fuentes a corrupt cop) the ugly (Manzano the good cop), the weak (Sammy Pita's father), the sleaze ball (Jordan the lawyer) the beautiful, (Mariana the crusading reporter), the tragic (Lisa, Pita's mother), the stupid, (Bruno the rather stupid Rave Master) and the downright evil (the Voice).
The film score is also a crackingly good example of how you can put music in a film and make it part of the whole visual experience.
In fact the music was SO good in my opinion I am breaking one of my rules, I'm buying the CD! I only do buy a soundtrack when I really LOVE the music; this is one of those rare occasions!
The whole film is quality on celluloid, and all the actors/actresses are perfect to the parts.
A film worthy of many Oscar nominations in my humble opinion but then quality has never been an Oscar trademark so I am not holding my breath in that department!"
Top notch film starring Denzel Washington
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 06/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Man on Fire is one of the best crime drama films I have had the pleasure of viewing. Set in the heart of Mexico, the film tells a fantastic story that is backed up by great direction and cinematic appeal. With that said, you throw in top notch actors like Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken and it does more than make the grade.
Man on Fire centers on John Creasy, a burned out loner type whose only resolve in the present day is a bottle of liquor. Creasy meets up with an old friend (played by Walken) who turns him towards work as a bodyguard for a family's daughter in Mexico, a place where multiple ransom based kidnappings occur on a regular basis. Given his extensive background of military accomplishments which includes counter terrorism and Special Forces (to name a few) he is hired almost immediately, although he himself is reluctant about the new role.
The character development of Creasy is excellent, but I would have to attribute that as much to the screen presence of Denzel as I would anything else. Overall the direction of this movie is superb, using captions when necessary and applying some different camera uses in regards to angles and perception to allow different moods to be invoked for a specific scene. Dakota Fanning plays as the daughter that he is supposed to protect, and I feel was a good choice for the role. As the movie moves on, we learn little about Creasy's past but get to explore him tearing down some walls in the present, as both a "vigilante with a vengeance" persona as well as seeing the human compassion side of him in his adoration of the little girl he is paid to protect. The film has it all when it comes to twists and turns as well as themes of corruption, family, and revenge. As Creasy says it best in the movie; "revenge is a dish best served cold". The films emotional conclusion is still a stoic ending when you take into account all the harrowing events and actions that led up to it. I feel what makes this film so much better than many of its kind is the ability to evoke a great seriousness within the main character while putting him in a dire situation throughout much of the film.
Bonus Disc: If you were a fan of this film when it first came out then you may enjoy this particular "Collector's edition Steelbook" package, which features a bonus disk chocked with extra's including multiple trailers, behind the scenes footage and an interesting documentary that talks about the ransom based kidnappings that take place in places like Mexico on a regular basis. Also discussed somewhat is the history of this story which originally came from a novel and had an initial film made about it starring Scott Glenn several years ago. "
Man on Fire (DVD)
David Foskin | Waterford, Ireland | 03/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Man on Fire is the film The Punisher should've been. Raw and unflinching, it's a gripping story of revenge that doesn't pull any punches - anchored by an electrifying performance from Denzel Washington. Director Tony Scott - never one to shy away from cinematic pyrotechnics - is particularly hyperactive here, pummeling us with rapid cuts and various other Oliver Stone-esque camera tricks. But Scott's short attention span serves the story well, giving the film a slightly off-kilter feel (and effectively mirroring Washington's character's state of mind).
The film's setup is straight-forward and direct, with Washington playing John Creasy - an ex-mercenary hired to protect the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Obviously, something goes wrong at a certain point, and Creasy finds himself forced to revive his long-since dormant military training for revenge purposes. Supporting roles are filled by reliable character actors including Christopher Walken (playing a longtime friend of Creasy's) and Mickey Rourke (as a sleazy lawyer, a character he inhabits with ease).
About the only negative thing one can say about Man On Fire - aside from the overlong running time, which doesn't feel terribly oppressive - is that it takes a really long time to get used to Scott's over-the-top directorial decisions (if at all). Certain plot points are somewhat obvious (ie Creasy's relationship with the girl goes from purely business to father figure awfully fast), but such things are expected out of a movie like this. What really matters is whether or not we believe Creasy's attachment to Pita (Dakota Fanning), the girl, and there's no denying that the film excels in that regard. Brian Helgeland's screenplay allows for an unusual amount of character development - it's around an hour before anything sinister happens - which gives us ample time to watch the two characters interact with each other.
But when the bad stuff does go down, Creasy's sudden change from cuddly teddy bear to violent man-with-a-mission is completely believable. Like Payback, another Helgeland scripted story, Man on Fire proves to be surprisingly brutal when it comes to onscreen violence. And because we're just as angry as Creasy, it's hard not to root for the man - even when he's stuffing bombs up the rear ends of perpetrators. The single-mindedness of Washington's character propels the story forward, even though the plot essentially vanishes somewhere around the one-hour mark; once the movie becomes about revenge, that's literally all it's about. There's some stuff about police corruption and a journalist that provides Creasy with info, but really, the film devotes itself to Creasy's quest.
Man on Fire is entering a marketplace that's crowded with similar films - ie The Punisher, Walking Tall, and Kill Bill: Volume 2 - and though it's not quite up there with the latter, it's surely far better than the former two titles. Washington convincingly sheds his nice guy image to become this gritty character (a character that's far less charismatic than Alonzo Harris, his Training Day persona), delivering a performance that's far different from anything he's done before. It's a film that will likely turn off a lot of viewers - primarily because of Scott's direction and the unforgiving nature of the story - but for those willing to stick with it, Man on Fire is one of the more intelligent and compelling thrillers to come around in a while.