Movie #287 Man on Fire
(2004, US, d. Tony Scott)
Filled with the usual tricks of filmmaking and editing that only a Tony Scott film could possess, Man on Fire for me marks the steady rise in talent Tony Scott has shown in the last few decades of his filmmaking career. Following the decent Brad Pitt/Robert Redford endeavor Spy Game, Tony Scott decides to go much darker here and set a film in the drug-dealing/criminal enterprising underworld of Mexico City. It is a film that is not afraid to exploit images, exploit violence, or even exploit filmmaking styles. But it is a film that does this carefully because it is how it makes its point. Never really allowing for any breathing space after the inciting incident of the film (a young Dakota Fanning getting kidnapped), Man on Fire follows personal bodyguard John Creasy as he begins a personal vendetta to rescue the kidnapped little girl he was assigned to protect. As he travels from pimp to drug dealer to mobster to gang leader to corrupted policemen, he begins to discover a giant and complex inner circle that only clouds his way to the girl he is looking for. Man on Fire is the rare film where extreme filmmaking styles advance the narrative. The jumps are jarring, the zooms are fragmenting, and the color is disorienting, but these are all tricks to get the audience into Creasy’s world. And they work. Man on Fire is a tense, high-octane, and action-packed film that doesn’t ever really stop until the end credits.