Everybody's a critic - 'Man on Fire'

Friday, April 30, 2004

Three stars (out of four)

What starts out as an enjoyable movie with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning becomes another violent story about getting revenge. John Creasy (Washington), an ex-military man, takes a job as a bodyguard for a wealthy Mexican family. Before he knows it, Creasy finds himself playing baby sitter to Pita Ramos (Fanning), the bright young daughter of a financially-troubled industrialist. Creasy rediscovers joy, laughter and purpose in his short relationship with Pita. After her kidnapping, Creasy becomes vengeful and sets out to destroy everyone who had a hand in her demise.

Despite the violent melodrama, which went on much too long, the movie has some redeeming qualities. Washington and Fanning gave superb performances and many of the movie's spiritual points are worthy of praise, even though it buys into the idea that restitution can be had through violent vigilantism. The surprise ending makes up for the crazy turn earlier in the movie.

- Lisa Quick, case worker


Four stars (out of four)

I went into this movie not really knowing what to expect and I came out completely overwhelmed.

Denzel Washington plays a drunk bodyguard named Creasy, whose skills are unmatched when sober, but lacking when he is not. He is hired by a rich family declining in wealth and worried about the safety of their daughter, Pita (Dakota Fanning), after an outbreak of kidnappings in Latin America. After the kidnapping of Pita, Creasy decides to take on a ruthless underground kidnapping scheme involving corrupt cops and government agents. Washington and Fanning both give Oscar-worthy performances. Fanning is the biggest surprise in this movie; she is the best young actress that I have seen in many years.

The storyline and twists in the movie keep you on your toes, the cast does an awesome job and the story even throws in references to the Bible and religion. However, the movie has quite a bit of graphic violence and was 2 1/2 hours long.

- Ben Martin, student


Three stars (out of four)

Denzel Washington's latest is set in Mexico City and centers on the Latin American kidnappings that have become so numerous in the last few years.

When his charge, Dakota Fanning, becomes the latest victim, avenging her becomes his personal mission. The film ties the kidnapping problem up too neatly, but at least it highlights a form of terrorism usually overlooked here in the north.

Washington, Fanning, Christopher Walken, Rachel Ticotin and Marc Anthony all give impressive performances. The direction by Tony Scott and score by Harry Gregson-Williams keep a frantic suspense going from the beginning. Beautiful, gritty shots of the city and innovative subtitling of Spanish dialogue add a pleasing texture without distracting.

I recommend this film. The characters and the story are rich with depth and history, making it easy to lose oneself, although some may want to steer away from "Man on Fire" because of the extreme violence.

- Bryce Eddings, credit manager

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