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Man On Fire wasn't as hot as I thought it was going to be

  • Jul 9, 2007
  • by
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 off after the bad guys take away the good thing in his life and so he takes them all out, major vigilante style. Whoo baby, bring on the punishment/vengeance! My cup of tea, girl that I am (not that all of us girls are against this kind of stuff).

Ok, I was almost right. But I’m not going into too much detail because in some ways there isn’t really any to give, and in others, go see the movie for yourself – doy!

Here we have Denzel Washington playing Creasy, an ex-assassin who’s come to visit his good pal Rayburn (Christopher Walken) in Mexico. Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) is looking for a bodyguard for his little girl Pita (Dakota Fanning) and wouldn’t you know it? Creasy is at the right place and the right time and boom, lands himself a job.

At first he’s a little awkward around Pita, who’s always asking questions and quietly working her way into Creasy’s life. Eventually though, he opens up to her and in essence, she becomes the little flame of light in his life. Joy.

But then, one day, Pita is kidnapped and Creasy does his best to rescue her, but can’t. After recovering from a couple of gunshot wounds, Creasy is on the rampage. He wants Pita back, and even if that isn’t going to happen, he’s going to get every single person who has had a hand in her kidnapping, no matter what the cost.

I thought the acting in this movie was great. I haven’t seen Denzel for a while and it was nice to see him doing something, well, *grr!* for once. He does an awesome job portraying the torn up Creasy who drinks a bit much and looks agonized over various things half the time. I found myself thinking, “Yeah, this is why he’s one of the better actors…because he can pull this stuff off so well.” The difference before and after Pita’s entrance in his life is very vivid, and after she’s gone, the cold and calculated art Creasy knows so well is played out perfectly.

Radha Mitchell (as Lisa Ramos, Pita’s mother) also did very well. I especially loved it when she went off on some of the people conducting her daughter’s ransom because it was so believable, I just thought, “Yup, I could see myself doing that.”

As for Christopher Walken, he’s always a great actor to see at work, even if his role isn’t very big. When he’s talking about Creasy and his man hunt, you can see he means business because Walken knows all about Creasy and his past.

Dakota Fanning did a good job too, though I thought Pita was sort of an odd child – you know, the kind that seems to be a lot smarter than you initially think. I guess it was just that persistent, “I wanna know everything about you” thing she had going on with Creasy. Kids like that weird me out – don’t they know what “no” means?

The movie itself was good, with a solid plot, but I felt (as did others around me) that at times it sort of dragged along. I think a little bit of the first half concerning the relationship building between Pita and Creasy could have been cut, and one of the killings he does, though creative, was a bit on the, um, far side. Oh, and boy can I call who the bad guys are. “Man I’m tired of always being right!”

Aside from dragging a bit, the other thing I wasn’t so big on was the camera action. Sure, it’s cool for a while and I thought it brought in a big dose of creativity and uniqueness to the film, but one can only stand so much random black and white picture/flashback pieces, slow motion, fast motion, freezing, and skipping one can handle. After the movie one of my friends joked, “I think I had two seizures during that movie…”

But hey, I think that if I can handle it, anyone can handle it. Just be prepared for some scenes where you cringe, going, “OOH, ouch..” and maybe even bring a box of tissue. I almost needed it, but that’s just me.


P.S. You know what? This is actually a remake, which is kind of disappointing too because I thought it was original... But either way, it's based on a book.

Like the music? Get the soundtrack.


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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 . November 15, 2008
Man On Fire
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 …
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, …
About the reviewer
Nicole ()
Ranked #71
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … 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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