After a ferry is bombed in New Orleans, an A.T.F. agent joins a unique investigation using experimental surveillance technology to find the bomber, but soon finds himself becoming obsessed with one of the victims.
On his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer, a rookie cop goes beyond a full work day in training within the narcotics division of the L.A.P.D. with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears to be.
A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her.
Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
Hard drinking, burnt out ex CIA operative John Creasy has given up on life until he's hired as a bodyguard to protect nine year old Pita Ramos. Bit by bit, Creasy begins to reclaim some of his soul, but when pita is kidnapped, Creasy's fiery rage is finally released and he will stop at nothing to save her as he sets out on a dangerous, revenge fuelled rescue mission.Written by
Although released among a flock of revenge-minded action flicks (KILL BILL VOL. 2; THE PUNISHER; WALKING TALL), MAN ON FIRE works as well as it does thanks in large part to the always-watchable Denzel Washington, one of the best actors around today.
In MAN ON FIRE, based on A.J. Quinnell's 1980 novel (first filmed in 1987, with Scott Glenn), Washington plays a down-on-his-luck ex-mercenary who has now stooped to drinking from a flash of Jack Daniels, until his old partner (Christopher Walken) offers him a chance at redemption. He is hired on as a bodyguard to the 10 year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning) of a Mexican businessman (Marc Antony) and his American-born wife (Radha Mitchell). While he and Fanning work like oil and water first (not mixing very well), he really gets to form a bond with her, encouraging her to do better at swimming, while he at the same time attempts to deal with the demons of the past. It is that very bond that will force Washington back into his old line of work when Fanning is kidnapped and held for a $10 million ransom, and he is nearly killed. With almost any other stock action hero (Schwarzenneger; Segal, etc.), the subsequent bloodbath would be the same repetitive schlock we've seen a million times before. But Washington's character, though he's killing for a reason, does not particularly enjoy doing what he does. Still, he gets help from a very intrepid Mexican newspaper reporter (Rachel Ticotin) out to expose "La Hermanidad" (The Brotherhood), the kidnap gang responsible for Fanning's abduction.
MAN ON FIRE is flawed to some extent because of the hyper camera work, nearly headache-inducing montage editing, and various film stocks that are par for the course of its director Tony Scott (TOP GUN; CRIMSON TIDE), but which are not necessarily unique to him (witness Oliver Stone's use of montage in JFK or Sam Peckinpah's in his classic 60s and 70s films). Still, Scott gets a very good performance from Washington, as well as Fanning, who comes across as far more than a typical movie-brat kid. Harry Gregson-Williams' south-of-the-border Spanish guitar score is enhanced by soundtrack splashes of Chopin, Debussy, and even Linda Ronstadt's classic 1977 country-rock version of "Blue Bayou." Although the film overall is quite violent, it is no worse than most action films of the last ten years, and overall it is much better than most.
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