Body Guarding
Man on Fire
Review by Ross Anthony

After "Out of Time," you might be a little shy about another Denzel film, but "Man on Fire" isn't bad. A serious drama that spends careful camera time with its characters, this picture has a strong heart underneath a harsh surface.

The now-pop-stylish "edgy independent" cinematography feels very odd when mixed with Hollywood celebrity and a rather basic Hollywood plot line; but it works. And for each visual attempt that's trying too hard to be hip, there are another three where the camera special effects nail an emotion to the screen in a frozen frame, or a blurred hand, or fleeting flashback. Through the camera, through good dialogue and acting, an enduring sense of tension rumbles. The writers have created strong characters, and both Denzel and Dakota bring them to life in a believable likable manner. They're easy to root for.

Christopher Walken in a smaller role, is, as always, awesome. Marc Anthony, however, makes a much better singer. Additionally, there are some problems with the plot that would spoil if talked about here. So I'll just say that the ending feels "changed" at a later date, leaving prior details devoid of sense. Strong B+, instead of an A-.

This film has been compared to "The Punisher." They're both revenge films, but so is "Kill Bill" and a hundred other films. "Man on Fire" takes greater care defining its main character and his relationship to his "family" (Dakota Fanning) than does "The Punisher." It's rather surprising, the time given to that relationship, but is in and of itself a quite sweet experience that helps audiences back this dangerous vigilante. If you're up for an exciting action film with some good "kills" see "The Punisher." "Man on Fire" isn't an action film. It's a drama with some action.

Interesting note: Tony Scott and cinematographer Paul Cameron sometimes hand-cranked their cameras to slow down or speed up movement.

(This film screened at a Laemmle Theatre.)

  • Man on Fire. Copyright © 2004. Rated R.
  • Starring Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony,Radha Mitchell, Christopher Wlaken, Giancarlo Giannini, Rachel Ticotin, Jesus Ochoa, Mickey Rourke, Angelina Pelaez.
  • Directed by Tony Scott.
  • Screenplay by Brian Helgeland.
  • Produced by Arnon Milchan, Tony Scott, Lucas Foster at Fox 2000, Regency Ent/New Regency.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:08 PDT