on September 22, 2004
"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
on October 3, 2004
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!
American audiences love their Silver Screen heroes that wreak vengeance on the Bad Guys. In MAN ON FIRE, Denzel Washington makes Stallone's Rambo and Eastwood's Dirty Harry look like altar boys. I don't recall either of the latter two lopping off fingers.
Washington is Creasy, who, haunted by his past as a counter-insurgency assassin employed by the U.S. government, drinks to excess and contemplates suicide. On a social call to a pal from the old days, Rayburn (Christopher Walken), Creasy rhetorically asks, "Do you think God will forgive us for what we've done?" Rayburn, now living the good life in Juarez, Mexico, would like to see Creasy pull out of his self-destructive funk. So, he puts his friend in touch with Mexican businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony), who lives with his American wife Lisa (Radha Mitchell) and daughter Pita (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City, where kidnapping offspring of the rich and famous is a growth industry. Samuel and Lisa are in the market for a new bodyguard for their daughter.
Creasy, of course, takes the job. At first, he rebuffs the overtures of young Pita, who's an only child in need of a new friend. Slowly, though, he falls under her thrall. Indeed, Pita's innocence and youthful zest for life make Creasy want to live again. So, after she's ultimately kidnapped in a bloody street shootout (that leaves her protector gravely wounded) and ostensibly killed after a ransom attempt gone awry, Creasy vows apocalyptic revenge against all those involved in her abduction. And Rayburn, with his useful contacts, supplies enough firepower to single-handedly topple another Third World despot.
MAN ON FIRE has been criticized because Washington, one of Hollywood's finest dramatic actors, supposedly deserves a better role than that of a formula action/special FX Neanderthal. The point seems to be missed that Denzel brings to Creasy's persona a depth of character, albeit an emotionally and psychologically tortured one, rarely seen in the lantern-jawed superheroes of screen legend. Indeed, Denzel's performance is eminently watchable, as is that of each of the major players in the production. Dakota Fanning, at age 10, is incorrigibly engaging as the kid who wins the Tough Guy's heart. Mitchell, whom I've not seen before, is completely convincing as the gorgeous Mom who holds her child dearer than anything. And how about that Christopher Walken, huh? Here, soon after THE RUNDOWN, we have another notable supporting performance.
In my mind, the film falls short on two minor points. First, it wasn't clear what happened to Samuel's lawyer - poor scripting or bad editing, perhaps. Second, the casting director apparently bent over backwards to make the Ramos family appeal to WASP audiences. I mean, why not Salma Hayek and some adorable Latino girl instead of the Nordic blonde Lisa and the precocious Pita (who had all the Latino attributes of Shirley Temple in her Cute Phase)? And, as an aside, Mexico City desperately needs a PR makeover after MAN ON FIRE dwells on its police corruption and slums - I wouldn't now go there on a bet.
MAN ON FIRE is a violent and gritty shoot-'em-up that transcends most of the genre because of Denzel presence. Four and a half stars.
on April 3, 2006
Man On Fire is simply one of the best pure action/revenge movies I've ever seen. The familiar story where the hero, his life destroyed, decides to wreak Old Testament justice on the responsible parties is a mythical tale as old as Greek drama, a samurai fable brought up-to-date and which, in this case, seems peculiarly American even though it takes place in Mexico and the director is a Brit.
Tony Scott is firing on all cylinders here, and to my mind this is his best movie to date. It ranks with Unforgiven for its sheer, unapologetic demand for retribution. It's writer, Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, A Knight's Tale, L.A. Confidential), also did the lean, cool, violent (and often funny) Payback with Mel Gibson. This film eschews humor for the most part except when we experience the lightness of the banter and play between Creasy and Pita. There is no fuzziness here, no lenient judgment, no forgiveness. The best of these kinds of films are stringent and deeply, mercilessly moral. Do me bad, I'll do you double bad. This is one of those films.
Caution, SPOILERS: Once it is clear that the girl has been kidnapped and is probably dead, hand-wringing is astutely absent and dilemma is off the menu - at least in Creasy's case (and, eventually, in the mother's as well. She is played with intelligence and soul by the quietly gorgeous Rhada Mitchell).
We know going in that something bad is going to happen, and it does. And we also know that the hero will not stop in his efforts to bring justice to the bad guys. And he doesn't. Washington and Fanning are the stars of this film, and they are both superb. This is some of Washington's best work, and the young girl is an astonishing, instinctive actress. Her actual maturity is almost freakish, but it never feels anything but natural in her work. Be sure and listen to her on the bonus disc.
As to the film's look and feel, Scott and his DP, Paul Cameron (Collateral), pull out all the stops. The camera captures the moods and the moments with exquisite exactness. From Washington's character, Creasy - sitting in the dark, a defeated, weary drunk - to Fanning's Pita, impossibly happy, utterly vulnerable, exposed in the bright sun and spotlight glare of the rippling, light-dancing swimming pool - to Creasy again, no longer the protector but the avenger now...through all these changes Cameron's palette, his choice of filters, of lighting and framing, change as well. He continuously puts us into a fundamental matrix of color and shadow which seizes us and pushes our emotions to the brink. We can't help but scrutinize every wrinkle in Washington's ragged face and start at the sudden flare of light exploding off of every dark-windowed car gliding quietly and menacingly through the claustrophobic streets of Mexico City.
If you like a revenge flick that doesn't hold back on the revenge (as many films do), but that also contains time to build real people and to feel real emotions, where we see a man redeemed: once by a little girl's love and then again by blood, you can't help but like this movie.
on February 20, 2007
Definately one of my favorite films of all time. I stumbled upon this masterpiece while in serious need of having my faith in the magic of Hollywood replenished. After being dissapointed by many of Hollywood's latest titles sporting unrealistic situations and unbelievable special effects I was more than satisfied with this marvelous jewel of a film. I could tell you that the film is intended for mature audiences but that's what ratings are for. I could tell you that this film is graphically violent but it is an essential ingredient of the gripping storyline and marvelous story-telling.
The film is not only made spectacular by magnificent performances by some of Hollywood's elite but the captivating editing techniques used manage to get right down to the nitty-gritty of a good revenge flick. The originality of subtitling techniques allows one to feel more in touch with a language spoken during the film that one might not understand. A brillinat soundtrack gives one an emotional attachment to the situations and the environment the story is set in. I was deeply moved by this film and I would highly recommend it to anyone, no matter what sort of genre you prefer. This is the type of film that has major re-watch value and one always finds something new to enjoy with each veiwing of this cinematic masterpiece. Bravo, we desparately need more films that can get so in touch with the real-life emotions involved in such relationships as portrayed in this film. Buy this movie now!
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.
on March 16, 2015
Classic Tony scott film, one of his best
one of Denzel washington's best performances aswell as Burnt out CIA Agent John creasy
and a very young Dakota fanning, Good performance by her aswell
20th century fox has released this film with a new High Definition transfer and tell you what
the picture quality does look very sharp & clear better than the old DVD release for sure
plus the sound quality has been boosted with a new 5.1 Master audio mix
one thing 20th century fox did not bother doing or were just plain Lazy
was to carry over all the special features from the 2 Disc collectors edition dvd
20th centuries new blu-ray version is barebones, no extras nothing
not even the Audio commentaries
very stupid decision by them
However the U.K. blu-ray version has all the special features carried over from the 2 Disc set
the VENGEANCE IS MINE making of Documentary
14 Deleted scenes, with optional commentary
the never before seen alternate ending with optional commentary by Tony scott
the 2 Audio commentaries from the dvd release are on this blu-ray
1 by Tony scott the other by Dakota fanning
Still Photo Gallery
Music video Oye como Va by Kinky
the usual Theatrical trailer and TV spots
all this on 1 blu-ray Disc incredible
the U.K. blu-ray is all regions anyway says ABC on back cover
so fans of this film can easily buy the U.K. version from amazon uk and get it shipped to their U.S. address for sure
the film deserves 5 stars for sure
this U.S. blu-ray version only 1 star, based on barebones no extras
typically Disgusting effort by 20th century fox as usual
so time to upgrade and buy the U.K. blu-ray version get your money's worth
on December 5, 2005
The TV SPOT for this movie was what had me waiting for it's official release... and of course the fact that Denzel Washington and Tony Scott were the driving force behind it.
Incredibly gut-wrenching, dark and frenetic film follows the story of Denzel Washington (Creasy) who has a "horrific" past that he's trying to move away from... becomes the "body-guard" of the daughter of a business man in Mexico City. The daughter (Pita) played by Dakota Fanning [who is going to be one of the greatest actresses the world has ever seen] gives the performance of her life. Unbelievably believeable!!! Enter a host of other actors : Marc Anthony, Mickey Rourke (looking good) and Christopher Walken (always eerie and dependable - one of those actors you don't know if you like, but can't stop watching).
The story is that of the relationship that bonds Creasy and Pita and how a man who has done so much killing ; finds redemption in protecting the innocent child. The bond almost becomes that of father and daughter because Pita's father is never around. Even the nickname she gives him, "Creasy Bear" indicates her love and dependability on him.
Of course, she is kidnapped and Creasy left for dead and when Creasy finds out "she's dead" he wages WAR on all involved.
In a Scene Washinghton asks Walken : "Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?" and Walken replies, "No!"
Once the revenge starts and all hell breaks loose, the answer is understood. The violence is excessive and gratuitous but essential in this tale...
Creasy stops at nothing in order to bring the guilty to justice and he has absoluetly no remorse whatsoever... "Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting."
The movie has some awesome dialogue and quotes that are going to be remembered for years to come.
Pita's mother asks Creasy : "What are you going to do?" And he replies : "What I do best. I'm gonna kill 'em. Anyone that was involved. Anybody who profited from it. Anybody who opens their eyes at me."
At over 2 hours, the movie takes us on an incredible journey... with a few surprises and an ending that will have you in tears. But at the end of the film, Walken's statement about Creasy is proven 100% true : "He'll deliver more justice in a weekend than ten years of your courts and tribunals!" and we know it... we've just watched him do it.
THIS IS THE BEST ACTION/THRILLER OF 2004 and a MUST SEE / MUST OWN!!!
on January 13, 2007
stars Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning in made-for-them roles, this movie is a definite highlight in both their careers. I watched it in the theatre, I'm just now getting it on DVD (had to wait to find the special edition, refuse to spend money on those no-feature DVDs). It is an awesome movie - the first half has the feel of a sweet father/daughter story, the second half like a revenge story, yet it all flows together into a wonderful, touching, (and yes tear-jerker) film.
Dakota Fanning is Pita, the only daughter of Samuel and Lisa Ramos (her father is played by Marc Anthony, who is brilliant in his role as the tortured father). Denzel plays Creasy, the bodyguard hired to protect Pita as kidnappings of wealthy children in Mexico City is on the rise. He has his demons, and resists Pita's charms for a while, but is soon won over by her sweet disposition and unconditional love. Pita loves Creasy, how could he not love her back. With her parents gone so much on business, Creasy becomes a second father to her. And then the unthinkable - a kidnapping attempt.
Not saying another word, other than Mickey Rourke as the lawyer and Christopher Walken as Denzel's ex-military friend Rayburn are brilliant casting decisions, and this is an awesome movie. Very cool effects in some of the action scenes, you often feel you are in Creasy's head.
As to the special features on this DVD - bravo. This is the way special features should be done. On disk 1 is the main feature along with a choice of 2 commentaries - one by the director, the other by the writer, the producer, and Dakota Fanning. She is adorable to listen to on her take throughout the movie. The writer and the producer do their jobs well both putting in other relevant information and guiding her through the thought process so she shares what we'll be interested in. The only thing that could have been added was to include Denzel on the commentary, even if they had to edit him in rather than have him on site while they recorded. On disk 2 are 33 minutes of deleted scenes, with option director commentary, a 6 part documentary on the making of the film which includes cast interviews (and even Denzel is interviewed), an alternate ending, a series of camera angles for the kidnapping scene, music video, and other production features such as storyboarding. Audio is available in English, Spanish and French.
on August 12, 2005
This is a high impact film that puts the viewer through the emotional torment of what a parent would inevitably go through if their child was unexpectedly wrenched from their lives for ransom. In this story the situation is so corrupt that even the child's family (I won't say how) is in on the kidnapping plot (gone terribly wrong), and the insidious corruption of certain factions of the police and gov't officials is accurately portrayed. For these reasons, I do not view the intention of this film as nothing but an entertaining "thriller" for the viewer to just chew the cud about whether "the director should have done that," "the camera angle should have been this, etc." from the nice safe harbor of their living rooms and not give enough weight to the worthiness of the theme being tackled here and the reality of this emotional and financial nightmare going on in Mexico City and elsewhere - film in and film out...next!
This movie makes one contemplate the virtues of heroism in the face of extreme odds, and goes into great painstaking detail about how things work on the dark side when a child is taken. The long nature of the film and the way everything is so deliberately built and drawn out is an accurate portrayal of how heavy time can be when one feels powerless and is forced to wait and wait and wait for clues and information about a loved one. Creasy's actions end up empowering those who remain in the end.
Though I'm not one to advocate violence, here is a film where there is something satisfying to see the tables turned on the kidnappers, and Creasy was willing to put his life on the life to win back the life of the child he was hired to protect and grew to love. After all, how many films, good or bad, have dramatized the terrible kidnapping situation in Mexico City with people as committed to their role as Denzel Washington? And the film is entirely committed to bring the story back home to every parent and every child who luckily hasn't had to face this kind of an emotional wrench.
Right or wrong, individual heroism does exist in life when society breaks down beyond a certain point and the matter becomes personal. Violent yes, but every one in the film experiences the consequences of his or her actions, including Creasy, who reclaims himself spiritually and emotionally by coming back to life through his love of this child. Consequences define justice, and there's plenty of it here according to each person's own virtues, or lack of same. This is another great movie dramatization of the eternal theme: that one person _can_ make a difference. Ten stars.