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Overall Rating
3.74

Awesome35.63%
Worth A Look: 30.63%
Average: 15.63%
Pretty Bad: 8.75%
Total Crap: 9.38%

8 reviews, 112 user ratings


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Man on Fire (2004)
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by Brian McKay

"Smolder, sizzle, burn, and sputter"
3 stars

MAN ON FIRE, which should have been a straighforward revenge drama, succeeds in spite of the many stumbling blocks that director Tony Scott insists on throwing in its path. With his overly flashy, jarring, and spastic editing, not to mention the constant use of over-stylized (and often superfluous) subtitles and a ridiculous "Secret Society" subplot, it's no wonder that this film is bloated to a 145 minute running time.

Denzel Washington is Creasy, a former soldier with lots of killing experience who is now a bodyguard with a drinking problem. Dakota Fanning is Pita (as in "Lupita", not the sandwich), the cute and precocious youngster that Creasy has been hired to protect. When she tries to make friends with Creasy, he remains aloof. But she gradually wiggles her way into his heart, as cute little kids do, and he begins to pull himself out of his alcoholic stupor and feel alive again.

Then some rotten bastards go and kidnap her and leave him for dead (although he manages to take down a few of them in the process). When he wakes up in the hospital several days later, he learns from fellow retired soldier and his best friend, Rayburn (a subdued Christopher Walken), that the ransom drop was botched and Pita is presumed dead. Dragging himself from his hospital bed, Creasy has only one thing left to live for - hunting down the motherfuckers that took her, and putting a hurtin' on them. And God bless him, that's exactly what he does.

While Denzel doesn't quite give a Training Day kind of powerhouse performance, he plays Creasy with a quiet but angry determination, giving us a character who has absolutely no compunction about torturing someone until he's squeezed every last morsel of useful information out of them, and then busting a cap in their head. Meanwhile, little Dakota is adorable and smart, giving us a character to feel for rather than a faceless child in distress. The chemistry between Washington and Fanning, and the cold rage that drives him to a killing spree when he learns that she is gone, are the main reasons why the story works. Without them, Man on Fire would just be a big dumb loud violent music video.

But that's almost what it becomes anyway, thanks to Scott's crack-monkey style of flashy, distracting, and irritating editing, combined with an often overbearing soundtrack. It may keep the ADD-afflicted MTV generation watchers entertained, but it's mostly just unnecessary padding, as are the overboard use of subtitles to emphasize every point made in the dialogue. How stupid do you think we all really are, Tony? Just tell the fucking story, already!. There's no reason this thing needed to pass the two hour mark. This isn't Lawrence of Arabia or Lord of the Rings. It's "Man bonds with girl, man loses girl, man sets out to kick some ass."

Somebody needs to put the reigns on Scott, before he damn near ruins another good movie. As for how this compares to the 1987 version, which features Scott Glen in the role . . . well, it's been a long time since I saw it, but I remember it was a lot less flashy while being just as effective. Too bad that version will probably continue to linger in the VHS graveyard of the Mom and Pop video store, while this version gets a special 2 disc set where Scott can bombard us with double the pretentiousness.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9269&reviewer=258
originally posted: 04/26/04 15:19:24
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User Comments

4/16/14 Charles Tatum A huge surprise. 5 stars
10/23/09 the dork knight decent enough thriller, though undercooked. Walken quotes make for required viewing 4 stars
7/09/09 Jeff Wilder One of the best recent action thrillers plus a superb performance by Denzel Washington. 4 stars
1/27/09 LYNDON DOWLING POWER HOUSE PERFORMANCE BY DENZEL. DAKOTA SHINES, GREAT SUPPORTING CAST. 5 stars
8/27/08 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
3/08/08 Kaz Corner Brlliant entertainent 5 stars
3/03/08 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
12/14/06 R.W.Welch Has a certain aura but a shade artsy. Ending is a bit much. 3 stars
12/14/06 Creasy Bear do what you do best.....kill them all.... 5 stars
11/25/06 MP Bartley It's a migraine in celluloid film. 2 stars
7/09/06 Dan Loved it, much better then that piece of crap Kill Bill. 5 stars
6/05/06 Erika This Movie Absolutly Rocks Creasy is a great man!!! 5 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Above average action entertainment. 5 stars
1/10/06 Michael Fast, who done it, get them back 4 stars
10/08/05 Jonathon Holmes another option if the "Kill Bill" movies are out of stock at Blockbuster 4 stars
9/04/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Guess this had a big enough blast from the ass to keep EricDSnider from even reviewing it! 4 stars
8/22/05 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Based on true story? Confusing end details on screen, but usual disclaimer. 4 stars
8/21/05 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
5/03/05 J K Rowling great movie 4 stars
4/20/05 Indrid Cold This should have been fantastic, but somehow it becomes dreary and unsatisfying. 3 stars
3/31/05 Dan GREAT MOVIE! 5 stars
3/27/05 Jack Sommersby Well-acted but absurdly overlong and just plain absurd. 2 stars
3/09/05 Doremimi Great performances, but this movie is ugly simply for ugliness' sake, and WAY too long. 3 stars
3/06/05 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
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Badly filmed and edited brutality galore. Very dispiriting garbage. 1 stars
1/05/05 HotGirl LOVED IT! 5 stars
11/28/04 Pam Bailey To me Denzel once again proved that he has the stuff that makes a movie worth watching. 5 stars
11/10/04 Jin melodramatic, manipulative, and overlong bloodbath. 2 stars
11/03/04 John the girl is great - good performances/ script but really overdone in terms of MTVstyle 3 stars
10/26/04 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
10/13/04 Gracie This movie is one of the best movies I have seen all year...Amazing 5 stars
10/11/04 michaelb14 "What I do best, gonna kill 'em. Anyone who was involved, anyone who profited from it" 5 stars
10/09/04 ELI Too artsy fartsy. and I didn't like any of the characters 2 stars
10/09/04 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
9/27/04 ALBERT awesome 5 stars
9/22/04 Shams Huque Denzel & Dakota were both superb! 5 stars
9/22/04 Kathy I thought it was great and very emotional, Denzel was fantastic! 5 stars
9/17/04 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
9/14/04 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
8/08/04 Melissa Great movie...Denzel is awesome! Had my heart pumping the entire time. 5 stars
8/07/04 esquire damn fine flick. really enjoyed it. 5 stars
8/06/04 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
8/03/04 qasim top flick! denzel at his best! 5 stars
7/29/04 TXN Good movie but the mtv-style editing can be FRIGGIN IRRITATING 4 stars
7/04/04 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
6/08/04 jamal this movie was off the chain h tight as hell. Denzel was still great and a tight ass g 5 stars
6/08/04 James Kustes Not very good. Even though it was Denzel. 2 stars
6/01/04 bryna morris I thought the movie was great 5 stars
5/29/04 Parker fan-bloody-tastic, ignoring the music-video montages. 4 stars
5/23/04 S F what a load of crap 2 stars
5/23/04 vagile Denzel at his best. Great fun in a dark comic book kind of way. 4 stars
5/20/04 cpbjr DW was good. 3 stars
5/17/04 PAMELA VERY VERY GOOD EXCITING NERVE WRACKING 4 stars
5/12/04 Josh pretty good, needs less of 1st hour 4 stars
5/09/04 Michael Bailey A bit long, but some great acting...especially Denzel and the little girl! 4 stars
5/06/04 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
5/05/04 Christian Jones Denzel was...Denzel, and Dakota Fanning was...aboluely amazing! 5 stars
5/04/04 minnie B. Clark excellent movie 5 stars
5/03/04 edward jones fucking awesome 5 stars
5/03/04 Nellie Wife comes to grips with home finances but what a price 4 stars
5/03/04 Ajax Half star for Denzel, other half for Dakota, all else just sucks. 1 stars
5/03/04 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
5/01/04 Gobsmack Flawed, not nearly as good as it could have been, but worthwhile overall. 4 stars
5/01/04 g. kane a little lengthy but still very good 5 stars
4/30/04 thomas jeffrson best movie i ever seen 5 stars
4/29/04 Cheryl Miller It held my interest & released my anger 4 stars
4/28/04 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
4/27/04 malcolm "Creasy's art is death, and he's about to paint his masterpiece." 5 stars
4/26/04 oldtexan good flick 4 stars
4/26/04 Chris Thomson I agree that this film is two movies in one, but the two just double your fun! 4 stars
4/26/04 a movie watcher great movie good story 5 stars
4/26/04 Diane Langlois Great movie! Denzel is fabulous as always! 5 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy "Forgiveness is between them and God. I just arrange the meeting." Just misses greatness. 5 stars
4/26/04 Markus andrews it was a powerfully uplifting rollercoaster 4 stars
4/26/04 Cakes Denzel was awsome. And little Dakota is an incredible little giant 4 stars
4/26/04 Michael sucked. sucked. sucked 1 stars
4/26/04 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
4/25/04 Bev Good but way too long 4 stars
4/25/04 Annie Oakley fabulous movie, very moving, made me cry 5 stars
4/25/04 shery great movieb 5 stars
4/25/04 Meghan Awesome 5 stars
4/25/04 Atanu Dakota fanning with all her creepiness is a wrong choice as ever. read the damn book. 1 stars
4/25/04 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
4/24/04 Christina holy crap! That Dakota Fanning is amazing. Denzel is DA MAN. 5 stars
4/24/04 john yummy Tony Scott, Denzel tougher than 'Training Day'...nice Mexico scenes, action, acting 5 stars
4/23/04 Mike V Tony Scott is a Tool. 2 words: Stylized Subtitiles. Waste of Denzel. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Apr-2004 (R)
  DVD: 24-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Aug-2004




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