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Not just another revenge movie, MOF has a beautiful twist...

  • Nov 15, 2008
  • by
Revenge movies are so popular because we all like to feel that warm fuzzy of satisfaction when the guilty reprobate responsible for causing all that pain to our hero is finally blown up into tiny bloody pieces. It's a comfortable feeling of validation that makes us glow with a delightful feeling of righteous fulfillment. Right?

Man On Fire is not necessarily a great movie, but it is a great revenge movie, unique in its choice of location, actors, and resolution; and that makes it worthy of a peek.

Denzel Washington plays John W. Creasy, an ex-assassin from some sort of special ops group, who has retired from his work with Death to become an aimless and hopeless alcoholic. He travels to Mexico City to visit his old friend Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken) who has settled into a comfortable life there.

Rayburn sets Creasy up with an easy job as a bodyguard to nine-year old Pita Ramos (expertly played by young Dakota Fanniing) daughter of well-off plant owner Samuel Ramos. Creasy does not like people, but young Pita manages to wiggle her way into his heart. Creasy is almost killed when she is kidnapped for ransom, and finds out through Rayburn that the ransom drop went bad. Creasy then teams up with tenacious and levelheaded reporter Mariana Guerrero (talented Rachel Ticotin) and sets out to do what he does best; dish out death to everyone involved in the kidnapping.

In Rayburn's words, "A man can be an artist, food or whatever, it depends on what he's good at. Creasy's art is death, and he's about to paint his masterpiece."

Watch out for some stellar performances by Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Rahda Mitchell (I am so glad to see this talented actress get another leading role besides Pitch Black, she was great in that movie too), Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, and (surprise) Marc Anthony. Yes, he can act, and plays his part of Samuel Ramos with a style and substance that is missing in his singing career.

There is wonderful scenery from Mexico City, a tight plot, a wonderful musical score, and a unique and bittersweet climax which all allow Man On Fire to rise up above the "just another revenge movie" it could have been. The movie itself was a pleasure to watch and IMHO, worthy of purchase. The only part of the actual movie that I didn't like was using too much of what I call Stutter-Flash scenes; jumpy, flashing scenes that alternate slow-mo and sped-up photography. While adding to the surrealism of Creasy's world, a little goes a long way, and I think the movie over-uses this effect.

What I didn't like about the DVD version was that the only special features available were the running commentaries that seem to have become popular with directors and actors. To me, this is like having people blathering on annoyingly in the theater while you are trying to watch the movie. I prefer interviews and behind-the-scenes features to the commentaries. Also, the subtitles on the screen during the Spanish speaking parts were tiny, forcing blind-ol-me to sit closer to the TV than I wanted to in order to be able to read them.

All in all, Man On Fire is a great movie; suspenseful and well acted with a little twisty surprise at the end that actually squeezed a tear from my withered and dried up soul. Enjoy!
Man On Fire

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More Man on Fire reviews
Quick Tip by . March 21, 2010
Makes me wonder if justice can only be brought about by paying a hefty price! What a corrupted world!
review by . November 06, 2009
I haven't seen the 1987 original that inspired this excellent and brilliant 2004 remake. But after seeing this one I don't think I want to see the original. Tony Scott has, in my opinion, finally crafted an emotionally soaring and brilliant intense action film that blends the both drama and mind blowing action sequences into one seamless and beautifully crafted film.            Man on Fire is as smart as it is ruthless and cunning. It's got the great style …
review by . July 09, 2007
Pros: Unique - and I always do enjoy vengeful hero movies     Cons: A little long, camera editing/shots could have been less     The Bottom Line: "Creasy's art is death....and he's about to paint his masterpiece."     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. After going to see The Punisher and deciding it kicked major you-know-what, I sort of expected this to be the same sort of thing, i.e. guy gets ticked …
review by . October 28, 2004
Pros: Style, acting, acting, acting.     Cons: Length, violence     The Bottom Line: After all the bodies are counted, and all of the blood mopped from the floor, Man on Fire was worth the time spent engaging in this form of Hollywood artistry.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. I have to admit that I hesitated before going to see Man on Fire despite the Denzel Washington’s lead role, as well, …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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About this movie


Starring Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony, Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke
Directed by Tony Scott
Writer:  Brian Helgeland
Based on the novel Man On Fire by A.J. Quinnell

Product Description
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). Bit by bit, Creasy begins to reclaim his soul, but when Pita is kidnapped, Creasy unleashes a firestorm of apocalyptic vengeance against everyone responsible.
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Director: Tony Scott
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
Release Date: April 21, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 50min
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises
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