Man on Fire (SE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Creasy (Washington) is a down on his luck, half drunk government operative who has let his beard grow and doesn’t care too much for things like…life. He reluctantly takes on the job of protecting young Pita (Fanning) whose parents have had constant threats of kidnapping recently. The story goes: they become close, Creasy gets a new outlook on life, then Pita’s abducted, making Creasy very….very…angry. Hulk-style angry. Pissed off one liners are then thrown around like so many baddies.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
It’s really nice to see a movie deliver on its promise of ass kicking action with such balls. Brass balls. To see a movie that doesn’t hold anything back, that doesn’t pull any punches or pander to all those people who think violent movies and video games are damaging “our children.” Well, spare me, honey. Dudes like myself enjoy their action movies littered with the ol’ ultra-violence, foul language, blood, bombs and shooting galore. What we have with Man on Fire is pure Tony Scott and like most of his films, Tony Scott loves to use a reoccurring theme called revenge. Shit, he made a movie titled that! And revenge in a Tony Scott film is always taken to the next level. There’s always a character out to right the wrongs that have been happened upon him, and righting those wrongs in an oh-so wrong way. (huh?) At the same time, Tony Scott off-sets this in your face, visceral and stylish violence with a sweet and emotional connection via Denzel’s Creasy and Dakota “I’m really not in enough movies” Fanning’s Pita. The connection and relationship between the two is believable and heartbreaking and without being sappy or forced. Denzel manages to give yet another great performance as the pissed off and drunk ex-government operative and with this and his role in Training Day, he really needs to have more “pissed off” roles. Talk to your agent, homeslice! Marc Anthony, as Pita’s father, also shows up and basically does nothing while smoking Radha Mitchell plays his wife with subtlety and less bitchyness that I thought a wife in that situation would deserve.
Scott movies always tend to have its detractors of his jump and slam cuts-MTV style of directing, but let’s give credit where it’s due: Tony Scott has been doing this waaay before MTV and its video directors started doing the whole stylized, hyperkinetic way of cutting a scene. I’m always a fan of his cuts and colors in his films and they’re never distracting in the least. The movie itself is a bit longer than my ass can handle, almost hitting that two and a half hour mark, but after it’s initial introduction to the characters and the story itself, things really get rolling once Denzel gets pissed off and starts whooping some ass.
Oh, and as a drinking game: Take a shot every time Pita (Fanning) says, “Creasy”. You’ll be drunk before she gets abducted.
Audio commentary with Tony Scott/Audio commentary with screenwriter Brian Helgeland, producer Lucas Foster and Dakota Fanning – Tony (yeah, we’re on a first name basis) as always, provides his insights and motives with regard to his choice of visual shots and visual language. None of it ever seems overbearing like all those lectures in film school, but there are some gaps when he seems to have nodded out. He also talks about filming in Mexico City and the problems and rewards of that.
The other commentary with Helgeland, Foster and Fanning has a pretty good back and forth with all the players from how Foster had been wanting to make the film since he read the book to the methods Helgeland took to writing the screenplay and how it differs from the book, to Fanning discussing what it was like to be part of such a rough and tough movie.
Vengeance Is Mine: Reinventing ‘Man on Fire’ – A pretty solid documentary that runs a tad long, just over an hour, but includes very cool shit like Tony Scott being attached to the project even BEFORE it was originally made with Scott Glenn twenty years ago and also screenwriter Helgeland relates a story about how he saw the original Scott Glenn Man on Fire when it was recommended by none other than video store clerk du jour, Quentin Tarantino. The documentary itself is broken down into separate chapters but you do have the option of playing all them thanks to the very handy “Play All” option. Bonus!
Multi-Angle Sequence: Pita’s Abduction – As the title states, this is a multi-angle feature of the abduction sequence with an optional commentary by Tony Scott. You can also view the storyboards that go along with this.
Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending – There are about fifteen deleted scenes that provide a ton of background on the characters, including one scene in which Denzel taps Radha Mitchell in his car. Nice hit, dude! The alternate ending is….well….not worth mentioning. Thankfully they kept the one in the theatrical cut.
Music Video for ‘Oye Como Va’
Trailers – Three Trailers for Man on Fire and other Fox titles
If you happened to already pick this up when it was originally released, then there really is no reason for you to spring for the super duper extra special edition, unless you’re a completist and are, like, sooo in love with the movie you can’t get enough of it. Saying that, if you haven’t picked it up or seen it, don’t bother renting it because even though it’s a little long, it will be a flick you’ll be watching over and over again, so buy buy buy.