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Man on Fire (2004)



Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 161
Fresh: 62 | Rotten: 99

Man on Fire starts out well, but goes over the top in the violent second half.


Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 25

Man on Fire starts out well, but goes over the top in the violent second half.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 421,353

My Rating

Movie Info

A wave of kidnappings has swept through Mexico, feeding a growing sense of panic among its wealthier citizens, especially parents. In one six-day period, there were twenty-four abductions, leading many to hire bodyguards for their children. Into this world enters John Creasy, a burned-out ex-CIA operative/assassin, who has given up on life. Creasy's friend Rayburn brings him to Mexico City to be a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos, daughter of industrialist Samuel Ramos and his wife Lisa.


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

Brian Helgeland

Sep 14, 2004


20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now


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All Critics (172) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (99) | DVD (42)

Suffice it to say nothing about this pumped-up, hyperthyroidal Tony Scott revenge flick makes sense, but it takes two hours to kill off as many people and demolish as many vehicles as Charles Bronson used to do in 30 minutes.

April 29, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Intentional or not, Man on Fire's over-the-top evocation of Christian retribution goes a long way to making this otherwise standard revenge fantasy watchable.

April 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I'm recommending Man on Fire for that bold style, its unapologetic comic book story arc, and the great performances from Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken and young Dakota Fanning.

April 26, 2004 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This movie isn't just about a kidnapping; it is a kidnapping, and we're the hostages.

April 24, 2004 Full Review Source: | Comments (2)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite a red-hot performance by Washington as the antiheroic, self-annihilating title character, the film as a whole, while possessing a kind of vicious beauty, feels as cold and as embalmed as a corpse.

April 23, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A predictable, gruesome piece of business that tries to ennoble one-man vigilante justice with the star power of Denzel Washington.

April 23, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Extremely violent; not for kids.

December 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (7)
Common Sense Media

"Man On Fire" is remake of a notoriously dreadful 1987 movie, based on the same-titled novel by A.J. Quinnell, and it fares little better here with Tony Scott ("Spy Game") directing with a flamboyant use of flashy subtitles and camera techniques lifted f

May 8, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Scott tries too hard to look like Ridley Scott's films with similar and derivative style, and hazy cinematography...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

A down-and-dirty revenge tale that packs an emotional punch.

June 21, 2005 Full Review Source: FromTheBalcony

Visually the film is nice, but the images are in service to a violent and ugly film.

March 30, 2005 Full Review

Un bon divertissement de masse, non exempt d'intelligence.

February 25, 2005

Mean-spirited; one of the year's 10 worst

January 5, 2005 | Comments (3)

[It suggests] that John Creasy -- J.C. -- is a Christ figure: scars, prayers, acting as savior. But where Christ overcomes evil with good, J.C. uses heavy artillery.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Christianity Today | Comments (3)
Christianity Today

Serves up revenge, loud bangs, grisly deaths and heavy symbolism in Mexico with some relish - and extra cheese.

October 8, 2004 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

"One of those rare treats -- an original and ingenious take on an otherwise formulaic idea."

October 6, 2004 Full Review Source: FilmFocus

I couldn't help thinking afterwards how harebrained the whole adventure was. Yet Washington is so charming, so charismatic, and so heroic in his role, he makes the movie.

September 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Shamelessly manipulative and sadistically violent… a new low for both Washington and Scott, and one of the nastier bits of business in quite some time.

June 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Giving credit to Mexico City as 'a very special place' after spending two hours depicting it as the worst hellhole in the hemisphere shows how clueless the director can be.

May 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

For those who flinched at watching Denzel go crooked in "Training Day," you may want to hide under your seat as he goes absolutely twisted here.

May 13, 2004 Full Review Source:

Em nenhum dos filmes de vingança produzidos recentemente a retórica eleitoreira e bélica de Bush tornou-se tão visível quanto em Poder de Fogo.

May 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Helgeland's screenplay is too lazy to investigate Washington's viciousness. This promising movie winds up spinning its wheels in a conventionally dopey action plot.

May 11, 2004 Full Review
Philadelphia Weekly

The chemistry between Washington and Fanning is the main reason why the story works. Without it, Man on Fire would just be a big dumb loud violent music video.

May 8, 2004 Full Review Source:

Exemplifies a widely-held mindset of its era, one that calls for simplistic, brutal solutions to highly complex, awful things that are happening in the world.

May 8, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

It has just enough weight and depth to feel like it means something. I don't think it actually DOES mean anything, but it gives the illusion of it nicely.

May 8, 2004 Full Review Source:

[W]hat may take the jaded viewer aback is the amount of time [Tony Scott] dedicates to character development before heading down the inevitable trail of bloody revenge.

May 6, 2004 Full Review Source: New Times
New Times

Audience Reviews for Man on Fire

Cool movie where Denzel protects a litte girl at all costs.....what isn't awesome about that?
September 18, 2012
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

Tony Scott's Man on Fire gives meaning to the word assassin.The plot doesn't necessarily blow anything out of the park, but the way the story itself unfolds is what gives this film its entertainment value. Despite being a tad lengthy, as it approaches 2 and a half hours, the first hour of character development really sets up the the second half quite nicely.It's no secret that time does pass until the action shows up, but it is worth the wait. The violence is served with a good helping of blood and brutality, while also not going overboard as to be on the gruesome side; however, Tony Scott's visual effects tends to detract from, not just the action scenes, but the rest of the film as well.Denzel Washington is a solid choice as former agent Creasy. Dakota Fanning also lives up to expectations. The chemistry between the two is on the money and this is what really makes this picture work.Man on Fire does have a few disappointments, but all in all, it is one recommendable film.
June 18, 2012
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

Tony Scott takes a typical story of redemption and turns it into one of his typical, albeit entertaining stylish frenetic action romps.

John Creasy is a burnt out, depressed, alcoholic ex-CIA agent turned mercenary who gets a new lease on life after he agrees to become the bodyguard to a precocious little white girl named Pita living in Mexico City with her affluent "new money" parents.

Slowly but surely, Pita starts to rehumanize Creasy and bring him out of his slump. He goes over the edge and returns to his violent past life however, when she gets kidnapped and held for ransom. And, as you might expect, there's a twist (like always) and the film is heavy doses of both heart, mayhem, and splattered wall to wall with both blood and religious iconography/symbolism.

Basically this is a lot like Taxi Driver in many repects, though not nearly as competantly made, memorable, or brilliant. It's solid, sure, but Scott's stylistic tendencies are a bit overbearing and distracting here. I know he included them as a way of trying to set this routine story apart from other films of this ilk, but it doesn't work out for him nearly as much as it should.

The dialogue is clunky, the film isn't quite as balls to the wall in some places (as it should have been), and, even though I am a fan of heavy religious symbolism, it feels way too forced here. Also, the subtext involving corruption in Mexico is a little trite and really glossed over instead of being insightful and full of depth.

I do like htis movie though. I mean, it's Denzel Washington kicking ass and taking names...what's not to like? Walken put in an okay supporting performance where he doesn't paly a villain this time, and yeah, this is the breakout film for little Dakota Fanning who does a decent job with the amount of screentime she's given.

All in all, this is passable, but overwhelmingly underwhelming in it's lack of focus and over the top with it favoring of style over substance. B-.
May 5, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Based on a novel which I didn't know and actually a remake of an earlier film from 1987, pretty much the same deal accept its set in Italy as at the time there were many kidnappings there.

This time Scott sets the film in Mexico City for its high scores in kidnapping and the grounded Washington takes on the role as Creasy. First thing I have to mention is how good this film looks, the Scott brothers know how to make films look sweet and this is no exception. You really get a hot humid, sweaty, sticky feel for this setting, you can sense the tension and stress on 'Creasy's' shoulders merely from the weather that swirls around him.
Mexico City is a vibrant colourful place and Scott makes full use of this with his camera angles and uneasy sequences which he seems to almost blur when combined with the native soundtrack and fast movements of the action, everything feels uncomfortable as you wait for the inevitable to happen.

The only issue I had with the film is its really quite predictable even if you have never seen the first film or read the book, Washington is stoic and owns his role but you know what's gonna happen at every turn. The film is also a bit slow really as we see 'Creasy' gradually gain 'Lupita's' trust and friendship which is needed of course but basically the fun doesn't kick in until she is stolen away, until then your just watching filler as it were.

I think the film wants to be epic but doesn't really make it, the cast is certainly aimed at a thriller epic and the musical score really really wants you to feel the emotion as it builds towards the end but I personally just didn't feel it. I think Tony tries to nick his brothers idea from 'Gladiator' with the haunting score towards the end, the kind of 'Clannad' type sounds do seem rather familiar.

Its a solid film with good performances but not as stand out as you would hope for, quite bleak and dirty with a real gritty essence but ends up becoming a typical vengeance thriller, better than most but nothing grand.
April 3, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. John Creasy: Say goodbye to her!
    – Submitted by John D (6 months ago)
    1. John Creasy: Who's the boss? Who's the boss? Who's the boss!
    – Submitted by John D (6 months ago)
    1. John Creasy: Revenge is a meal best served cold.
    – Submitted by John D (6 months ago)
    1. John Creasy: Okay, my friend. It's off to the next life for you. I guarantee you won't be lonely.
    – Submitted by John D (6 months ago)
    1. John Creasy: You move, you make one sound, I'll snatch the life right out of you. You understand?
    – Submitted by John D (6 months ago)
    1. John Creasy: Your mother's waiting for you. She's right down at the end of the bridge. OK. You go home.
    2. Lupita Balletto: OK. Where are you going?
    3. Lupita Balletto: I'm going home too. I'm going to Blue Bayou.
    – Submitted by Andrew S (20 months ago)
View all quotes (12)

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