Man on Fire
Directed by Tony Scott
Denzel Washington’s Creasy character takes his Jack with water but director Tony Scott (director of Top Gun, True Romance, Days of Thunder – among others) serves his action movies straight up. Although Man on Fire was predictable – not totally but about 90% – it was well worth the ride. The action scenes were pumped up with burned-out photography and sharp, fast editing (which I don’t always approve of) that fit well with the pace of those scenes. The smartest two things they did: (a) casting Denzel Washington, and (b) allowing a longer than usual set-up – they built up a very strong attachment between bodyguard Creasy and his assignment (Pita played by Dakota Fanning). Denzel first: his performance reminded me of his Oscar-winning turn in Training Day (2001). The characters aren’t the same (his dirty cop in Training Day was clearly a very bad guy while Creasy is troubled but a very good guy) but the common thread was the quiet, brooding anger and frustration of both. The long set-up showed Creasy gradually warming up to and eventually bonding with Pita and, in doing so, finding a measure of peace with himself. That set-up was very effective in drawing the viewer in emotionally when – big surprise! – the movie isn’t called The Swimming Coach after all – Pita gets kidnapped! Creasy’s murky background as a special op/assassin comes in handy when it turns out that there is a complex web of very nasty bad guys including dirty cops – this is Mexico City. Anyway, when he starts taking out bad guys I felt a powerful emotional hook because of the attachment to Pita. There is no Tarantino-style humor or irony in these characters – this is a well-executed, straight-up American action movie – if you go for that sort of thing, don’t miss Man on Fire.
Images are copyright 20th Century Fox
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