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Man On Fire

Year: 2004
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Tony Scott
Producer: Arnon Milchan
Writer: Brian Helegland
Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Rachel Ticotin, Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke
Tony Scott and his signature style at its finest. Denzel is damaged veteran John Creasey. But it's the finest 'damaged' hero that's been on the screen for a long time. Creasey is hurt and doesn't know how cool he is at the same time. His hurt is given ample screen time and his Oscar-worthy acting skills give it life. Like no other hero with a stereotypical Hollywood 'past', you feel him every step.

Trying to get a second lease on life after drink and memories have nearly destroyed him, Creasey drifts down to Mexico where an old friend (Walken) sets him up a job as a bodyguard to the cute daughter (Fanning) of a wealthy couple to protect her from the spate of kidnappings that have plagued Mexico City.

Pita's innocence and love is realistic and never corny or Disney-ish, thanks in part to the excellent script and in part to the talents of an actress way beyond her years.

Her enthusiasm breaks through Creasey's shell and brings him back to life, and with a businessman father and playgirl mother, he becomes a surrogate father to her.

When Pita is snatched during a dramatic streetside kidnap in which Creasey is shot and near-fatally wounded, the media and political hubbub flares up, gradually dies down, and Pita's devastated parents are left with nothing.

Himself a marked man having seen the corrupt police officers involved in the kidnapping, Creasey is moved to a convent to convalesce. Word is received that Pita is dead, and when healthy again (although just barely), he returns to her mother to promise her he'll do what he does best. In his own words; 'kill them all'.

Creasey goes on an inspiring one-man hunt where he takes no prisoners and shows no mercy for Pita's suffering.

Here the Scott music video aesthetic kicks well and truly in, at times a little much (like the rolling subtitles for dramatic effect), but nevertheless it's a riveting story following Creasey on his rampage of revenge, more so than Kill Bill was (despite supposedly being the final word on revenge movies).

The twist is no real surprise, but until that moment the show very much belongs to Denzel's sense of expression and movement and Scott's crystal meth-overdosed camerawork and screen effects.

A good mixture of background characters stop it being a Schwarzenegger bloodbath, but a bloodbath it is, and thanks to some outstanding performances by at least two actors on top of their game, a very entertaining one.

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