Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
3.73

Awesome35.4%
Worth A Look: 30.43%
Just Average: 15.53%
Pretty Crappy: 8.7%
Sucks: 9.94%

8 reviews, 113 user ratings


Latest Reviews

Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves

Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver

Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver

Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Explosion by Jay Seaver

Lucky (2017) by Rob Gonsalves

Breadwinner, The by Jay Seaver

Endless, The by Jay Seaver

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Rob Gonsalves

subscribe to this feed


Man on Fire (2004)
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"It almost feels like it might mean something."
4 stars

"Man on Fire" wants to be more than an ordinary kidnapped-child drama, and more than an ordinary revenge thriller, and I think it succeeds. It has just enough weight and depth to feel like it means something. I don't think it actually DOES mean anything, but it gives the illusion of it nicely.

It is set against the backdrop of modern-day Latin America, where we are told a child is kidnapped every 60 minutes. (Who is this child, and why does everyone want to kidnap him? But I jest.) In Mexico City, where the film takes place, these abductions are generally not for political reasons, but for good ol' financial ones: Bad guys want money, and the city is brimming with wealthy businessmen with abductable children.

Consequently, many of these tycoons employ bodyguards for their offspring, and that is how we find John Creasy (Denzel Washington), an alcoholic former military man who has come to Mexico to hang out with his old buddy Rayburn (Christopher Walken) and his even better buddy Jack Daniels. Rayburn is an American who has found, like many Americans, that you can live like a king in Mexico on very little money. He encourages Creasy to find a job suited to his particular skills.

Creasy is hired by Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) to guard his supernaturally cute daughter Pita (Dakota Fanning) as she goes from Catholic school to piano practice to swim meets and such. At first Creasy wants only to be her bodyguard, not her friend, and he therefore evades her attempts to learn about his personal life and background. But slowly she wins him over with her youthful innocence and infernal adorability.

The screenplay, adapted by Brian Helgeland (who also wrote the similarly themed "Payback") from A.J. Quinnell's novel -- which was already made into a 1987 film that no one saw -- takes plenty of time developing the bond between Creasy and Pita. The film is 52 minutes old before she finally gets kidnapped, and by then the two have become best friends. Part of me admires the movie for wanting to truly establish a relationship, but part of me resists such efforts because I know they're all just part of the set-up: Once she's gone, he'll have to find the evil-doers, whether he and the girl were bosom buddies or not; that's just how movies work. Likable performances from Washington and Fanning aside, I never felt like they were anything more than mechanisms in a plot.

At any rate, the ransom drop goes awry and Pita is presumed killed as a consequence, turning Creasy into the titular man on fire -- not literally, unfortunately, as I always enjoy seeing a man on fire, but figuratively, as he goes after the killers.

After "Kill Bill Vol. 2" and "The Punisher," this is the third film in two weeks to focus on someone tracking down and killing people who have committed great wrongs. "Man on Fire" doesn't have the style or black humor of "Kill Bill," but neither is it as relentlessly bleak as "Punisher." It is matter-of-fact about Creasy's duty to exact revenge on the kidnappers; the option of letting the police sort it out is not even mentioned. We are to understand that Mexico is an utterly lawless place, full of corrupt cops and social anarchy. Maybe this is true, I don't know; I've only ever been to Tijuana, and just for a day.

The film's greatest liability is its director, Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Gladiator"). The less-talented Tony is known for big, bombastic stuff like "Top Gun," "The Last Boy Scout" and "Enemy of the State." I don't recall his jittery, gritty style bothering me before, but "Man on Fire" seems to be his magnum opus of spastic filmmaking, a veritable grand mal seizure of quick cuts, swirling close-ups and over-caffeinated movement. (Action cinematographer Paul Cameron and editor Christian Wagner, a Scott regular, should be blamed for this, too, I suppose.) It is "stylish" for a while, but then it becomes "flashy" and eventually "irritating." Even the subtitles, used when characters speak Spanish, get into the act, certain key words being made larger or the whole lines jumping around the screen as the people talk. And I think making the SUBTITLES part of your action-thriller is the very definition of over-doing it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9269&reviewer=247
originally posted: 08/17/05 03:20:36
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell dull slow revenge thriller wildly overrated 1 stars
4/15/14 Charles Tatum A huge surprise. 5 stars
10/22/09 the dork knight decent enough thriller, though undercooked. Walken quotes make for required viewing 4 stars
7/08/09 Jeff Wilder One of the best recent action thrillers plus a superb performance by Denzel Washington. 4 stars
1/26/09 LYNDON DOWLING POWER HOUSE PERFORMANCE BY DENZEL. DAKOTA SHINES, GREAT SUPPORTING CAST. 5 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
5/21/08 PAUL SHORTT MEAN SPIRITED REVENGE THRILLER WITH A HERO WHO POSSESSES THE SENSIBILITY OF A CORNERED RAT 1 stars
3/07/08 Kaz Corner Brlliant entertainent 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies not my favorite Denzel movie, but ok. 3 stars
2/02/08 Chris Crappy movie, just the story itself combined with Tony Scotts directing make it unwatchable 1 stars
7/26/07 Shawna Blake thats my favorite movie, denzel is such a good actor 5 stars
12/13/06 R.W.Welch Has a certain aura but a shade artsy. Ending is a bit much. 3 stars
12/13/06 Creasy Bear do what you do best.....kill them all.... 5 stars
11/24/06 MP Bartley It's a migraine in celluloid film. 2 stars
7/08/06 Dan Loved it, much better then that piece of crap Kill Bill. 5 stars
6/04/06 Erika This Movie Absolutly Rocks Creasy is a great man!!! 5 stars
2/20/06 Agent Sands Above average action entertainment. 5 stars
1/09/06 Michael Fast, who done it, get them back 4 stars
10/07/05 Jonathon Holmes another option if the "Kill Bill" movies are out of stock at Blockbuster 4 stars
9/03/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Guess this had a big enough blast from the ass to keep EricDSnider from even reviewing it! 4 stars
8/21/05 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Based on true story? Confusing end details on screen, but usual disclaimer. 4 stars
8/20/05 chris hagopian Very good, inspiring although a little cynical 5 stars
7/30/05 hoosier daddy Its about a killer redeemed by using evil tools for good. Deal with it. 5 stars
6/06/05 Helen Bradley Faced paced thriller is a 'death watch' style great acting all round 5 stars
5/02/05 J K Rowling great movie 4 stars
4/19/05 Indrid Cold This should have been fantastic, but somehow it becomes dreary and unsatisfying. 3 stars
3/30/05 Dan GREAT MOVIE! 5 stars
3/26/05 Jack Sommersby Well-acted but absurdly overlong and just plain absurd. 2 stars
3/08/05 Doremimi Great performances, but this movie is ugly simply for ugliness' sake, and WAY too long. 3 stars
3/05/05 axefell Revenge is a pure animalistic drive, you either feelin it or you ain't. I'm a sanguinous MF 5 stars
3/01/05 THY FURY I enjoyed very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Very violent and sadly very true. Not for the fait hearted viewer. 4 stars
1/21/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Badly filmed and edited brutality galore. Very dispiriting garbage. 1 stars
1/04/05 HotGirl LOVED IT! 5 stars
11/27/04 Pam Bailey To me Denzel once again proved that he has the stuff that makes a movie worth watching. 5 stars
11/09/04 Jin melodramatic, manipulative, and overlong bloodbath. 2 stars
11/02/04 John the girl is great - good performances/ script but really overdone in terms of MTVstyle 3 stars
10/25/04 Puspa Allamanda .............. 5 stars
10/16/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Guess this had a big enough blast from the ass to keep EricDSnider from even reviewing it! 4 stars
10/16/04 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Based on true story? Confusing end details on screen, but usual disclaimer. 4 stars
10/12/04 Gracie This movie is one of the best movies I have seen all year...Amazing 5 stars
10/10/04 michaelb14 "What I do best, gonna kill 'em. Anyone who was involved, anyone who profited from it" 5 stars
10/08/04 ELI Too artsy fartsy. and I didn't like any of the characters 2 stars
10/08/04 LilyM Whenever I was drawn into the story, the camera tricks drew me right back out. 2 stars
9/28/04 ben Psycho Racist Flick 1 stars
9/26/04 ALBERT awesome 5 stars
9/22/04 Shams Huque Denzel & Dakota were both superb! 5 stars
9/21/04 Kathy I thought it was great and very emotional, Denzel was fantastic! 5 stars
9/16/04 Kyle Wellcome I really thought Denzel played his role well. It's a good film, and its worth a watch. 4 stars
9/16/04 ALDO good flick with decent twists....Revenge at its finest 4 stars
9/13/04 Dan Was great to see him get back those bastards for what they did to pita 5 stars
9/01/04 Tommy A must-watch 5 stars
8/07/04 Melissa Great movie...Denzel is awesome! Had my heart pumping the entire time. 5 stars
8/06/04 esquire damn fine flick. really enjoyed it. 5 stars
8/05/04 McGraw Flawed but fun. Editing is over-the-top but nothing awful. 4 stars
8/04/04 Nikolai Denzel president? Decorrupts Mexico while Bush Nukem can't nail one camel herder in 3 years 4 stars
8/02/04 qasim top flick! denzel at his best! 5 stars
7/28/04 TXN Good movie but the mtv-style editing can be FRIGGIN IRRITATING 4 stars
7/03/04 MorallySound Awesome thiller, great acting, amazing cinematography. Real good movie, 5 stars
7/02/04 denzel's mom my baby done good! worth the 8 dollars! 5 stars
6/07/04 jamal this movie was off the chain h tight as hell. Denzel was still great and a tight ass g 5 stars
6/07/04 James Kustes Not very good. Even though it was Denzel. 2 stars
5/31/04 bryna morris I thought the movie was great 5 stars
5/29/04 Parker fan-bloody-tastic, ignoring the music-video montages. 4 stars
5/22/04 S F what a load of crap 2 stars
5/22/04 vagile Denzel at his best. Great fun in a dark comic book kind of way. 4 stars
5/19/04 cpbjr DW was good. 3 stars
5/16/04 PAMELA VERY VERY GOOD EXCITING NERVE WRACKING 4 stars
5/12/04 Josh pretty good, needs less of 1st hour 4 stars
5/08/04 Michael Bailey A bit long, but some great acting...especially Denzel and the little girl! 4 stars
5/05/04 D Page Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning give great depth to thier characters. 5 stars
5/05/04 DIRTYMOVIEMAN When are the awards given out. Denzel should be up again. Great Movie !!! 5 stars
5/04/04 Christian Jones Denzel was...Denzel, and Dakota Fanning was...aboluely amazing! 5 stars
5/03/04 minnie B. Clark excellent movie 5 stars
5/03/04 edward jones fucking awesome 5 stars
5/02/04 Nellie Wife comes to grips with home finances but what a price 4 stars
5/02/04 Ajax Half star for Denzel, other half for Dakota, all else just sucks. 1 stars
5/02/04 Atanu Fanning looks like a 40 year old bitch playing at being a child. she's a monstrosity. 1 stars
5/02/04 Terry McGowen very well done,but does stretch believability at times 3 stars
4/30/04 Gobsmack Flawed, not nearly as good as it could have been, but worthwhile overall. 4 stars
4/30/04 g. kane a little lengthy but still very good 5 stars
4/29/04 thomas jeffrson best movie i ever seen 5 stars
4/29/04 Cheryl Miller It held my interest & released my anger 4 stars
4/27/04 Ms J Exciting movie after the first 30 minutes 5 stars
4/27/04 KingNeutron Subtitles were effective. Only problem: Where did the $$$ come from, to get stolen? 4 stars
4/27/04 Daniel Bennison this movie was poo even worse than looking at Nathan White nude 1 stars
4/26/04 malcolm "Creasy's art is death, and he's about to paint his masterpiece." 5 stars
4/25/04 oldtexan good flick 4 stars
4/25/04 Chris Thomson I agree that this film is two movies in one, but the two just double your fun! 4 stars
4/25/04 a movie watcher great movie good story 5 stars
4/25/04 Diane Langlois Great movie! Denzel is fabulous as always! 5 stars
4/25/04 Lord Jiggy "Forgiveness is between them and God. I just arrange the meeting." Just misses greatness. 5 stars
4/25/04 Markus andrews it was a powerfully uplifting rollercoaster 4 stars
4/25/04 Cakes Denzel was awsome. And little Dakota is an incredible little giant 4 stars
4/25/04 Michael sucked. sucked. sucked 1 stars
4/25/04 gyrene Outstanding performance by Denzel.Clever camera work.Subtitles work well.Way too short. 5 stars
4/25/04 Mary Johnson Loved it. Violent yes but still a great movie 5 stars
4/25/04 julietsierra great movie! Great performances. The cinemetography adds to the "on edge" mood. Fantastic!! 5 stars
4/25/04 Alex Higa Action, drama and unique executions.....GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
4/25/04 Alan Johnson Great Moive, two thumbs up 5 stars
4/24/04 Bev Good but way too long 4 stars
4/24/04 Annie Oakley fabulous movie, very moving, made me cry 5 stars
4/24/04 shery great movieb 5 stars
4/24/04 Meghan Awesome 5 stars
4/24/04 Atanu Dakota fanning with all her creepiness is a wrong choice as ever. read the damn book. 1 stars
4/24/04 Maria M GREAT MOVIE!!! Highly recommend it--Dakota is a jewelry--Denzel is a great artist 5 stars
4/24/04 Melissa Great movie! ne of the better one's I have seen this year 4 stars
4/24/04 Deanna Not enough Walken (but then is there ever enough?) It is a terrific movie. 5 stars
4/24/04 Terry H Intredpid, gritty Denzel, with his classic "O.K." 4 stars
4/24/04 Fred Wow! Great movie! Dakota Fanning is impressively convincing! 5 stars
4/23/04 Christina holy crap! That Dakota Fanning is amazing. Denzel is DA MAN. 5 stars
4/23/04 john yummy Tony Scott, Denzel tougher than 'Training Day'...nice Mexico scenes, action, acting 5 stars
4/22/04 Mike V Tony Scott is a Tool. 2 words: Stylized Subtitiles. Waste of Denzel. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  21-Apr-2004 (R)
  DVD: 24-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Aug-2004




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast