When you watch a Steven Seagal film or a Jean-Claude Van Damme film about a man trying to get back a loved one who has been taken hostage, it may include good action set pieces but there is never any emotional weight or note worthy characters. Man On Fire however has an exceptional cast and its two leads have a beautiful chemistry.
An emotionally broken bodyguard named Creasy (Denzel Washington) has his life turned around when he takes over the responsibility of a little girl named Pita. She breaks down his cold and dark exterior and starts to remove all his guilt and depression. But when things seem to be on the mend, Pita is kidnapped and Creasy is shot. He survives and vows to find the people who have taken Pita.
Man On Fire is one hell of film, from its blistering action sequences to its top class performances to its unique cinematography. The film is extremely powerful in its dramatic parts, with Denzel Washington commanding the screen like he usually does. Dakota Fanning is also superb as Pita and her scenes with Washington are the elements that drive the film. The first hour of the film is the set up of the Pita and Creasy relationship and the time taken in these parts make all the revenge and violence that happens later, much more meaningful. The violence here is very strong and Washington make Charles Bronson look like a post man.
Man On Fire is one of Denzel’s best films and it’s up there with one his best performances aswell. It’s a film that takes its time with the lead characters and this approach allows all the more conventional areas of a revenge film to feel far superior.