Movie of the Day – Man on Fire
May 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Revenge flicks are probably one of my favorite genre of movies. The raw aspect that fuels ones revenge is startling and opens up a view of human emotion that some of us rarely see. We hear about it a lot though, scorned lover get revenge on cheating husband. Disgruntled employee takes out rage against unfair boss. Revenge can be as simple as making someones life difficult at work or it can be fueled by violence. Revenge as an emotional response to a situation is difficult for us to grasp. What goes into the thought process of an individual who is out for revenge is just as frightening as the action of taking out revenge. I decided to pick a movie that displays just the bare bones idea of revenge, “Man on Fire” is a gritty movie about one man out for revenge on those who kidnapped a little girl. Tony Scott teams up with Denzel Washington to immerse us into the real world problem of child kidnapping in Mexico City.
The story follow Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a sort of washed up counter-terrorist operative looking to just skate by on jobs. He is given a job opportunity by his friend Paul Rayburn, played by Christopher Walken who just hams it up, where Creasy is to be a bodyguard for young family and their daughter in Mexico City. Creasy reluctantly gets the jobs and we see some of the psychological problems that he is facing in his life, most notable depression. The young girl Lupita, played by Dakota Fanning, looks to befriend Creasy who remains cold and distant. Creasy’s depression takes a darker turn and after a night of heavy drinking he decides to end it all. After the bullet fails to go off, he contact Paul and asks what it means when a bullet doesn’t fire. Taking this as a sign for another chance at life, we see a complete 180 in his attitude toward Lupita. He befriends her and Creasy sees that he can actually find happiness in all that he has done.
While taking Lupita to piano practice, the kidnappers come and abscond with Lupita leaving John injured. While make a recovery the attempt to get Lupita back goes sour at the drop off and she is lost forever. Creasy, an emotional wreck, realizes what he must do, which is kill everyone involved int he kidnapping and get revenge for what they have done. Creasy begins to tear apart Mexico City to find the head kidnapper and exact revenge for taking what was most precious in his life.
The movie is a solid entry for Tony Scott. I personally am not a fan of his whole overexposed and frenetic cutting of the film. His shooting style is just to jumbled and looks like more of a mess than an artistic expression. He really overused this technique when shooting “Domino”, but that movie couldn’t be helped stylistically since the story was all over the place. Anyways, aside from the style choice of Tony Scott, Denzel is the shit. There is no question about his presence in the movie and the rage of emotions that he goes through from depression, happiness, sadness and rage is masked by his icy exterior. The way that his character goes about dispatching the kidnapping ring is downright fucking scary. Then again, one has be ruthless when dealing with the kidnappers.
The act of revenge is brutal and the way that Creasy takes no pleasure in his torture of the criminals gives us a much deeper insight into what his life has been like as a private contractor. There isn’t a need to dive into his back story since we are given the scenes of violence and the way that he carries it out as our clue to his past life.
For the me, this is a great Denzel movie. I do enjoy the times that he gets to just cut loose and become a straight up action star. He brings his phenomenal acting prowess to a character that is muddled with back history and a one set mind character. The methodical way that he disposes of the bad guys is scary, but through it all you see that he does this with extreme precision and purpose. You catch glimpses of his redemption and the cleansing that soul goes through, more or less due to Tony Scott showing Creasy cleansing himself in a pool (very subtle Jesus comparison…bleh).
Like usual, if you haven’t seen the movie, check it out on Netflix Instant Stream. A solid action/revenge movie from Denzel.