Man on Fire is a 2004 American crime thriller film and the second adaptation of A. J. Quinnell’s 1980 fictional novel of the same name; the first film based on the novel was released in 1987. The 2004 film adaptation was directed by Tony Scott, from a screenplay written by Brian Helgeland.
Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a despondent, alcoholic former CIA operative/U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance officer turned mercenary and bodyguard, who goes on a revenge rampage after his charge, nine-year-old Lupita (“Pita”) Ramos (Dakota Fanning), is abducted in Mexico City. The supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin and Mickey Rourke.
This is a very stylish and violent film by the brother of Ridley Scott.
It takes about a third of the film just to establish the characters and motivations. When the abduction takes place it soon becomes clear that Cressy is going to go further than a ‘hero protagonist’ on a normal hollywood movie. And it soon becomes clear what the ending will be. Other books and movies have similar themes, where the ‘hero’ becomes vigilante and everything ends in a big mess that few get out of. Despite the annoying fast and distracting cutting during the action scenes, this is one of the better films of this type (4/5)
The film earned a total of $130.3 million worldwide, with a budget of $70 million
A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book’s lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters “like to leave their mark on the product.” Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers “did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl” and “When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful.” Kevin Freese of the Foreign Military Studies Office stated that “it appears that the allusion” of the fictional Sánchez brothers with the real Arizmendi brothers “escaped the comprehension of much of the audience.