Man On Fire (2004)


Burned out ex-serviceman Denzel Washington takes a job as bodyguard to young Dakota Fanning in Mexico City, but she is kidnapped while under his protection.

Yes, this workmanlike plot combined with the hugely predictable twists and garish colour filters all make this look like a big screen version of CSI: Miami, one of my least favourite TV shows of all time. However I must admit that the earlier scenes as Denzel and Dakota get to know each other work quite nicely and have a genuine warmth about them. The story is well paced considering its length and Washington on the warpath is always fun to watch. But once again, Tony Scott is his own worst enemy and ruins any possibility of drama or emotional connection with his trademark wandering focus, twitchy chronology and all round visual claptrap. There’s quite a good film lurking within Man On Fire, but I found myself grumbling “Oh for God’s sake, just get on with it!” every time something important happened because of Scott’s inability to stop screwing around.

One day, a shrewd producer will hopefully employ a bad tempered, starving Rottweiler to keep him out of the editing suite. Or even better, release an interactive DVD of his films. “IF YOU WISH TO TURN OFF TONY’S VISUAL BULLSHIT, PRESS THE RED BUTTON NOW.”



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