Man on Fire on DVD
Man on Fire is a difficult movie to analyze, and an even harder one to
Chances are, you think its nothing more than a typical action thriller
about a kidnapped girl and the bodyguard that wants to get her back. Youd
be forgiven for such thoughts, as thats exactly the impression you
get from the trailers, reviews, and even the box.
So you may be surprised to learn that Man on Fire is actually a deep,
thought provoking, expertly crafted piece of cinema.
John Creasy (Denzel Washington) is a burned-out CIA operative with plenty
of demons inside. Hes found solace in the bottle, and often wonders
whether or not he even wants to continue living. That is, until his friend
Rayburn (Christopher Walken) gets him a job as bodyguard to nine-year-old
Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning). At first Creasy is completely straight-laced,
not even wanting to talk to Pita. But the friendly charm of the little
girl is enough to make even him smile, and maybe even give the rest of
his life a second thought.
Until of course, Pita is kidnapped and held for ransom. Then things start
to go awry. Creasy was shot several times during the kidnapping, and despite
that fact, is suspected as an accomplice due to his killing of two police
officers. After his lengthy recovery, he decides to let a few of his demons
out to teach a few lessons to the people involved.
Dont be fooled. Man on Fire is not an all-out action extravaganza.
Absolutely nothing happens for the first 45 minutes or so. Initially,
you may think its just taking a really long time to get started,
but if you pay attention, youll notice that its actually telling
a very beautiful story. Sure, weve seen this kind of thing before,
but everything is done so well its easy to forgive. Screenwriter
Brian Helgeland does an excellent job of making us care about Creasy and
Pita, and the development of their relationship nearly brings a tear to
your eye. We really feel for him when Pita is taken and hes left
for dead, and we dont blame him for wanting vengeance.
The action is crafted well also, but its not all big action set
pieces and endless car chases and explosions. Creasy is much more subtle,
opting instead for the classic mob hit approach.
Director Tony Scott has come a long way from his early days of directing
movies like Top Gun, which were pure style over substance. Man on Fire
and Spy Game are wonderfully told stories that just happen to feature
some action. And although his intense music video style may be a bit disconcerting
at first, it actually works very well.
Denzel gives possibly his worst performance to date, but much like Scotts
style, it works a lot better than youd think. Its probably
due more to the fact that theres not a lot of talking in his role,
and it involves a lot of sitting and staring with a broken down look on
his face. Dakota Fanning, however, is an incredibly talented young lady.
There arent a lot of little girls that can play little girls so
well. Shes already starred in many a film, and well get to
see plenty more of her in the upcoming Alices Adventures in Wonderland
adaptations. Lets hope she manages to make a much-deserved career
The new DVD features the same transfers as the original, the same two
audio commentaries, and a second disc of extras. Disc one has the movie
and commentaries while disc two has everything else.
“Vengeance is Mine” is a 70-minute documentary that tells
the story of the making of the film. It starts with producer Lucas Foster
mentioning how a young man named Quentin Tarantino used to work at the
video store he frequented, and when he asked Quentin for a rental suggestion,
he was given the original Man on Fire, starring Scott Glenn. We get interviews
with Foster, Tony Scott, Brian Helgeland, Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning,
and several crewmembers as they take us through the production. It’s
a very well done documentary that features plenty of info without being
too long or boring.
An alternate ending and 14 deleted scenes are included, which run over
half an hour in length. At 146 minutes, the movie really doesn’t
need any more scenes, even though some of these are excellent bits of
“Pita’s Abduction” covers the scene of the same name
from Helgeland’s original script, to Scott’s storyboards,
to a multi-angle breakdown that lets us choose from four different cameras.
Finally, we get a photo gallery and some trailers.
Man on Fire: All Access Collector’s Edition, from 20th Century
Fox Home Entertainment
146 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital
& dts 5.1
Starring Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Christopher Walken, and Mickey
Produced by Arnon Milchan, Tony Scott, Lucas Foster
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
Directed by Tony Scott
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think