I mean, he’s not literally on fire. It’d be tough to will a two-hour movie with some dude burning the whole time… seems excessive. No, no, this is simply Denzel Washington kicking ass while taking only those names that will help him satisfy his blood lust. Revenge does not get much more entertaining than this, my friends. As much a visual journey as it is a cathartic redemption tale, this Tony Scott gem gleams under the blistering Mexican sun. Lather on the sun block, as this one has a tendency to burn, through and through, until that sweet, satisfying justice is served. Usually, I am a “live and let live” type, but kidnapping children? Send in John Creasy, and hope you aren’t one of the bad guys.
So, why is this Man on Fire? Well, when the little girl that he has been hired to protect gets snatched up by a nefarious criminal, the spark ignites. Aside from Pita (inhabited brilliantly by Dakota Fanning), Creasy’s only friend is Jack Daniels, so needless to say, he takes the kidnapping directly to his wounded heart. If the bottom of the bottle doesn’t kill him, the nether regions of Mexico’s dark side just might. Only an all-time great like Tony Scott could balance an endearing bodyguard-client relationship with excessive and brutal violence. Team Double D (working nickname for Denzel and Dakota) are so great together, Scott could have extended the first 48 minutes , never killed anyone, and just let their bond evolve. The visionary chooses to go another way, probably in order to stay true to the original text… Fair enough. For every heartfelt gesture between Pita and Creasy, there are several appendages waiting to be removed during an interrogation. You know, movie magic.
This noble and bloody pursuit scratches that vengeful itch that only Hollywood can reach. Infinite amounts of evil occur in this world, and more often than not the perpetrators of these atrocities do not see any punishment. At least balance can be found in the judicial confines of the silver screen… And with an ally like Paul Rayburn (the eternal enigmatic wonder Christopher Walken) arming him to the teeth, this inferno spreads quite nicely. Like creamy peanut butter on warm bread… delicious. Direction, screenplay, each performance, all woven exquisitely into this portrait of a wayward soul trying to do the right thing. While revenge may be a dish best served cold, redemption is a meal best served in any condition. Though, is the redeeming party is particularly warm in their pursuit, all the better.
directed by Tony Scott
written by Brian Helgeland
favorite lines: “A man can be an artist in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasy’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.” Paul Rayburn