Man On Fire: Directed by Tony Scott

Are all former government agents depressed, suicidal alcoholics? Denzel Washington’s lead character, former CIA agent Creasy, in Tony Scott’s Man on Fire sure is, perpetuating that Hollywood secret-agent-turned-cynic stereotype. Only here, Creasy dresses a bit better than most.

Man on Fire is another in a long-line of remakes Hollywood producers have deemed screen-worthy yet again, where Denzel Washington takes on the role that Scott Glen made nearly-invisible in the 1987 film of the same name. Creasy is an ex-CIA agent, who is on the brink of a meltdown (aren’t they all, really?). In order to help save his friend’s sanity, Reyburn (Christopher Walken) offers him one chance at personal redemption: act as a bodyguard for Pita (Dakota Fanning), the precocious daughter of two Mexico City socialites, Samuel (Marc Anthony) and Rika Balletto (Radha Mitchell). During the course of his brief tenure with the Ballettos, Pita becomes quite enamored with Creasy (or “Creasy-Bear” as she calls him), and eventually those feelings are reciprocated as Creasy begins to replace Samuel as the primary father figure in Pita’s life.

What happens next? Predictably, Creasy quits drinking, Pita gets kidnapped, and all hell breaks loose. When Creasy learns that Pita’s captors quite likely killed her, he goes on a Rambo-esque rampage, killing everyone he believes to be responsible.

Man on Fire, in many respects, represents all that is wrong in Hollywood today. It is quite incredible that a remake of a film could be so flawed; you’d think the producers would have corrected the “mistakes” present in the original. In any case, for all the predictability Man on Fire possesses, it’s not an altogether unentertaining film. Paul Cameron shot a visibly-appealing enough film, but the script lacked any kind of pace. The plot twists were few, and anything if not predictable. Man on Fire also fell victim to a typical Hollywood malady in that the viewer was spoon-fed all of the emotional content. For the most part, everything was explained that needed explanation, and we were left to sit down, eat our popcorn, turn our minds off and enjoy the gore.

From the perspective of content, the DVD of Man on Fire is almost as lacking as the film itself. All the usual fare is present, two commentary tracks are available, one with just director Tony Scott and another with producer Lucas Foster, screenwriter Brian Helgeland, and Dakota Fanning. A brief “making-of” featurette rounds out the bonus features.

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