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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Man On Fire

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Judy Thorburn

Man On Fire

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

DENZEL IS BURNING WITH REVENGE AS “MAN ON FIRE”

Do we really need another revenge movie?  Hollywood studios must think so, since recently they have released a string of movies with the same plotline – a lead character driven by one thing on their mind – getting even with villains at whatever the cost. What’s more, the surviving victim of the perpetrated crimes is always a powerhouse capable of single handedly using their own deadly and effective means to exact justice. In other words, you can expect lots of drama and bloody violence. The past month Walking Tall, Kill Bill Volume 2, and The Punisher arrived in theatres.  Now, the fourth film centering on revenge, Man on Fire is at your local Cineplex hoping to grab some audience attention and its share of the box office bucks.

Man on Fire uses the horrific statistics of kidnapping in Latin America, and the fact that only 70% of the abductees survive, as an angle to set the stage for what is about to unfold.  With that in mind Denzel Washington plays a burnt out, depressed ex militairy operative and former assassin who, with the referral of old friend Rayburn (Christopher Walken), lands a job as bodyguard for the daughter of a rich Mexican businessman, Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) and his beautiful American wife (Radha Mitchell), who fears ten year old Pita (Dakota Fanning) may be the next target.  Only Creasy isn’t exactly the best candidate for this position. As a self proclaimed “lost sheep” with inner demons from his old job, symptoms come through in the form of drinking and suicidal tendencies. He tells Ramos about his weakness for the bottle, but is hired nonetheless as long as wife, Lisa, doesn’t find out.  And, even though he was “paid to protect her and not be her friend”, it doesn’t take too long for Creasy’s cold demeanor to melt away after spending some time with the smart and cute charge who shows him a reason to smile, let alone want to live.

Of course, as expected, Pita is kidnapped during a shootout between her protector and the bad guys, which leaves Creasy badly wounded and in dire need of hospital care.  But, nothing will keep him down. When the ransom payment is botched and word comes that Pita has been killed, Creasy becomes obsessed with finding and obliterating anyone and everyone involved with her abduction. From then on Man On Fire becomes the usual go get’em affair as Denzel, stricken with pain but hungry for payback, uses his military experience and training to get into assassin mode.  With the help of a topnotch TV reporter named Marianna (Rachel Ticotin) and her bed partner, chain-smoking investigator Manzano (Giancarlo Giannini), who are eager to expose the truth about the kidnapping problem, Creasy is able to find the names of everyone who had a part and track them down.  From corrupt cops to professionals called La Hermanadad (The Brotherhood), to an unsuspected person who set the kidnapping in motion, the villains  wish they never touched a hair on her (Pita’s) head. Creasy’s war buddy Rayburn (Walken) says it best:  “Creasy’s art is death. He is about to paint his masterpiece”.  In movie terms that translates to what’s in store - violent explosions and kick ass action from our hero Denzel Washington. I must say some of his character’s forms of punishment against the villains were creative, to say the least.  Butt (correct spelling), that’s all I will say about that!

The rest is formula with a few twists and surprises and the lingering question of whether Pita was really murdered or not, by the leader of the pack, known as “the voice”.  But, first things first, we’ve got to see what happens when this ‘man on fire” goes on his rampage before the answer comes to light.

Denzel never disappoints delivering another gripping performance of a complex broken man seeking redemption.  And, even though blonde moppet Dakota Fanning is matched face to face with the megastar, she proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Still a pre teen, this pint size pro can teach many of her older peers a thing or two about their profession.  She is such a natural. Only Marc Anthony seems to be miscast as Pita’s father.  He is too wimpish and bland in a role that demands more strength and power.  Wasn’t Andy Garcia or Antonio Banderas available?  However, it was nice to finally see Mickey Rourke looking cleaned up and in good shape as attorney, Jordan Kalfus.

Man on Fire is certainly stylish. But, whether you like the style director Tony Scott (Spy Game, Enemy of the State), employed here is up for debate.  I found the jittery camera work and quick cuts annoying. They almost gave me a headache.  But, the script by Brian Helgeland (Mystic River) is better than most of this revenge genre, and I liked the way the way he develops the growing bond between Creasy and Pita.

Needless to say, the best reasons to catch Man on Fire is the two D’s – Denzel and Dakota.  They bring more to the story than it’s worth.  As a revenge movie, you should know what you are in for. If you’ve got a burning desire to see Denzel on a killing spree, than Man on Fire is one hot ticket to fit the bill.