|Man on Fire (2004)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Christopher Walken, Marc Anthony
Director: Tony Scott
Tony Scott’s latest action thriller “Man on Fire” would be a lost sheep if Denzel Washington wasn’t there to save it from complete failure. Although his latest performance doesn’t exactly turn the edgy and visually irritating film into a box-office winner, it certainly helps enhance the final product.
Denzel is back to his Hollywood A-game as Creasy, a washed-up assassin-for-hire who drowns his sorrows in Jack Daniels and Linda Rondstandt ballads. While visiting Mexico, his old war buddy Rayburn (Christopher Walken) helps Creasy secure a bodyguard job for Pita (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of successful Mexican businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony).
When Pita is kidnapped and Creasy is shot protecting her, the Ramos family faces a $10 million ransom for the return of their beloved daughter. Creasy awakens from his two-day coma to discover that Pita is missing, and exchanging the bottle for a gun, he tracks down every person involved with the kidnapping.
“Man on Fire” has a fairly involved plot, but director Tony Scott just doesn’t know when to put down the camera. The first half of the film runs nearly 30 minutes longer than necessary and never utilizes the amazing supporting characters that pop in and out of the story, including Giancarlo Giannini and cult veteran Mickey Rourke. The most maddening aspect of “Man on Fire” is the excessive treatment Scott applies to the film, inserting numerous jump cuts and overlapping frames while flashing random phrases of dialogue on the screen like a hip-hop video.
While some of the visuals in the film are extremely demanding on the eyes and brain, “Man on Fire” nonetheless represents an improved cinematic telling of the classic kidnapping thriller. Tony Scott can thank Denzel for that.
For those of you who were able to hold off on buying the barebones DVD release of "Man on Fire" at the beginning of 2005, your patience will have paid off, and you can now go out and pick up the newly released two-disc collector's edition with a boatload of special features for the true DVD aficionado. Presented in a widescreen video transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio soundtrack, the "Man on Fire" DVD includes two full-length audio commentary tracks (the first by director Tony Scott, and the other with producer Lucas Foster, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and star Dakota Fanning), as well as deleted scenes and an alternate ending (also featuring optional director commentary). The second disc is dedicated to more bonus material including a comprehensive production documentary, a multi-angle scene study, storyboards and script excerpts, and promotional publicity like TV spots and photo galleries for the film.