Tony Scott Retrospect – Man on Fire (2004) – Encore Review


“[refering to Creasy to Miguel Manzano in the Agency for Federal Investigation Headquarters] A man can be an artist… in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasy’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.” – Rayburn

Number of Times Seen – 3 (3 Dec 2006, 1 May 2019 and 22 Jun 2020)

Link to original reviewHere

Brief Synopsis – A former CIA operative is hired as a bodyguard for a little girl and takes revenge on the people who try and hurt her.

My Take on it – I’m going to be a guest at the end of the month on a podcast that will be reviewing the body of work of Director Tony Scott, so I plan to watch and review over the next 8 days, 8 of his most popular films in order of their release dates.

This is #7!

Denzel Washington has been a steady action hero actor for quite some time and this film is one of his most powerful roles in that kind of genre.

The film is quite enjoyable and works due to some great action sequences and to an intriguing mystery that is brought forth here.

The film might be a bit long and has too many lulls in the story line, but overall, it manages to mostly stay on track.

The story itself makes it imperative for a bond to form between two very unlikely characters and despite it never managing to reach the levels achieved in a film like Leon: The Professional (1995), it still manages to create a connection between a former spy and a little girl and keep it quite believable.

Tony Scott directed this film quite adeptly and as the story rapidly moves along form location to location, we get  a heightened sense of the mystery involved in this story as things are slowly revealed.

Washington plays his character in a very cold hearted way and we can easily understand why he has one goal he must achieve and will do what ever is needed to reach that goal.

He also allows us to see that even a man with some obvious blemishes in this past can reach a point in their lives where they seek redemption.

In many of the countries in South and Central America, kidnapping for ransom is quite a common occurrence and this film tries to give us an idea as to why this is such a thriving criminal business in those countries and why it is so diffcult to try and stop them from happening.

Bottom Line – Enjoyable action film that works despite having a slightly long runtime.  The story hinges so much on the chemistry between the two main characters; a former spy and young innocent girl and even if things don’t manage to reach the level of Leon: The Professional (1995), it still comes across quite plausible. Scott directs this one quite adeptly and let’s the story move from location to location as the mystery is slowly revealed along the way. Washington is fine in the lead here because he is able to play a cold-hearted character who has one goal and does all he can to achieve it.  In addition, this movie allows us to see how a character who has apparently done despicable things in his life finds a place to try and seek redemption for all that he has done.  In Central and South America there is rampant kidnappings and this film allows us to try and get a better understanding as to how and why it is so difficult to try and stop this industry from thriving.  Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Denzel Washington was cast in this film because of a trip to a doctor. He ran into director Tony Scott in the waiting room of a medical office and the two men started chatting. Scott had not seen Washington in person since they worked together on Crimson Tide (1995). Scott happened to see Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam (2001) the night before, and seeing Washington made Scott think of using them together. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10) (no change from original review)

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