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Drama - Crime

Man on Fire (2004)

Duration2h 26m
RatingsUK: 18, USA: R, Denmark: 15 
Source of storyA 1980 novel of the same name by A.J.Quinell and a previous film also of the same name in 1987.
DirectorTony Scott
Writers/ScriptBrian Helgeland
StarringDenzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Chiristopher Walken, Marc Anthony, Giancarlo Giannini, Mickey Rourke, Rachel Ticotin,
RatingsIMDb: 7.7/10 by 355,909 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 38% by 169 reviewers. Review2view: 8/10

Elevator Pitch: It is Mexico City at the turn of this century, where kidnapping for ransom is a real thing (and still is), requiring a rich family to hire a bodyguard. John Creasy, a former Us Special Ops man is hired, his impeccable CV marred by the fact that he has a drink problem, which he freely acknowledges. He is mostly assigned to taking the daughter, Lupita, to school and while initially they don’t get on, when he becomes her swimming coach they become friends. But inevitably she is kidnapped by a gang, Creasy being shot during the process, and then when the money is delivered it is stolen by a second group, resulting, apparently, in the death of Lupita. Creasy recovers and embarks on a path of vengeance, starting at the bottom and killing everybody involved. But things are not quite as they first appear.

 Content: Lisa Ramos, Lupita’s mum gets down to her underwear once, other wise no sex or nudity. Creasy drinks a lot and there is further social drinking and well as quite a bit of smoking. Creasy and Lupita gradually bond, both benefiting from their relationship. The kidnapping takes place involving some police and  in the shootout Creasy sustaining serious injury. When he recovers he says “I’m going to do what I do best, killing people” and embarks on the process, with the help of a newspaper reporter. There is the negotiation with phone calls and the delivery of the money, which goes wrong. There is a lot of violence where people are tortured, shot and blown up.  

A View: We people of the general public liked this more than the critics did, and it made an amazing £123 million in video rentals and sales. It is a bit of  a slow start as the two main players get to know each other, and we are aware that the child is going to be kidnapped. But after that there is no stopping it. I am a total sucker for a revenge thriller, particularly if the hero is  apparently invincible, and he is. In the real world the film crew required bodyguards and even so several were robbed during the filming. So in a way the fiction reflects reality. Well worth a view, even at a small cost.

Denzel Washington does a great superhero. Other films in this genre reviewed on this site include: The Equalizer, Deja Vu and the unusual The Book of Eli.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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