top of page
  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Man on Fire (2004)


Guests: Robb Conlon (Westport Studios and B2B Business Class) and Walter Gainer II (The Working While Black Show and Boss Locks Media)


Cast:

  • Tony Scott, Director

  • Brian Helgeland, Writer

  • Harry Gregson-Williams, Music

  • Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy

  • Dakota Fanning as Guadalupe "Lupita" (Pita) Ramos

  • Radha Mitchell as Lisa Ramos

  • Christopher Walken as Paul Rayburn

  • Marc Anthony as Samuel Ramos

  • Giancarlo Giannini as Miguel Manzano

  • Mickey Rourke as Jordan Kalfus

  • Rachel Ticotin as Mariana Garcia Guerrero

  • Roberto Sosa as Daniel Sanchez

  • Jesús Ochoa as Victor Fuentes

  • Carmen Salinas as Guardian three

  • Gero Camilo as Aurelio Sanchez.

  • Rosa María Hernández as Maria Rosas Sanchez

  • Charles Paraventi as Jersey Boy

  • Mario Zaragoza as Jorge Gonzalez


*Recognition:

  • Man on Fire (2004), a remake of the 1987 film, was released on April 23, 2004.

  • On a budget of $60-70 million, the film would be #1 at the box office upon release eventually making over $130 million worldwide to become the #40 grossing film of 2004.

  • However, critics were not so kind to the film as it was almost universally deadpanned for its violence, vigilantism, shallow characters, and confusing plotline.

  • Nevertheless, audiences loved the film giving it an A- Cinemascore, and the split between critics and audiences remains yet today.

  • Man on Fire currently holds a 39% on RT among critics, a 47 score on Metacritic, and a 3.7/5 on Letterboxd.


Plot Summary: In "Man on Fire," a former CIA operative turned bodyguard (Denzel Washington) takes on a new job protecting a young girl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City. As their bond grows, he becomes fiercely devoted to her safety. When she is kidnapped, he unleashes his lethal skills to bring justice to those responsible. The film blends intense action with heartfelt moments, showcasing Washington's commanding presence and the emotional depth of the story. Director Tony Scott crafts a gripping narrative filled with tension and redemption, making "Man on Fire" a thrilling and emotionally resonant experience.


Did You Know:

  • Most of the scenes between Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken were completely improvised.

  • Writer Brian Helgeland first saw the original Man on Fire (1987) when he was renting videos in the late '80s. He walked in to the video store where Quentin Tarantino was working and asked what was good. Tarantino recommended "Man on Fire".

  • Denzel Washington was so impressed with Dakota Fanning's acting that he'd watch her and forget he was in the scene.

  • The kidnappers' first names, Daniel and his brother Aurelio, are the actual first names of real-life Mexico City kidnappers in the late '90s--Daniel and Aurelio Arizmendi Lopez, the infamous "Ear Loppers".

  • Mexico City police told Tony Scott that his crew was targeted for kidnapping. Several crew members were robbed at gunpoint. Radha Mitchell had three bodyguards protecting her, when she was in Mexico for filming. She said they were hired after her driver was carjacked at gunpoint in Mexico City. Mexico City Police Chief Marcelo Ebrard helped with the movie and hoped it would shine a light on the kidnapping issue.


Best Performance: Dakota Fanning (Pita)/Denzel Washington (Creasy)

Best Secondary Performance: Denzel Washington (Creasy)/Dakota Fanning (Pita)

Most Charismatic Award: Dakota Fanning (Pita)/Christopher Walken (Rayburn)

Best Scene:

  • Swimming Drills Montage

  • You're Smiling

  • Car on the Cliff

  • In the Club

  • President of La Hermandad

  • Mr. Ramos' Demise

  • Pita is Alive

  • Final Exchange

Favorite Scene: President of La Hermandad/Car on the Cliff/Swimming Drills

Most Indelible Moment: President of La Hermandad/Final Exchange/Car on the Cliff/Mr. Ramos' Demise


In Memorium:

  • Richard Horowitz, 75, American film composer (Three Seasons, Tobruk, Any Given Sunday)

  • Ron Thompson, 83, American actor (Baretta, Cargo, American Pop)

  • Eleanor Coppola, 87, American filmmaker (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Paris Can Wait, Love Is Love Is Love), wife of Francis Ford Coppola

  • Trina Robbins, 85, American comic book artist and writer (It Ain't Me, Babe, Wimmen's Comix, Wonder Woman)

  • O. J. Simpson, 76, American Hall of Fame football player (Buffalo Bills) and actor (The Naked Gun, The Towering Inferno), Heisman Trophy winner (1968)


Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Rayburn: [referring to Creasy] A man can be an artist... in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasy's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece.


Pita: Being black...is that a positive or negative for a bodyguard in Mexico?


Elderly Man: In the church, they say to forgive.

Creasy: Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting.


Daniel Sanchez: [over the phone with Creasy] You have my family. So... how much do you want?

Creasy: Ah. Your brother wants to say something to you. Hold on.

[Creasy blows off Aurelio's fingers with a shotgun]


Creasy: Okay, my friend. It's off to the next life for you. I guarantee you, you won't be lonely.


Manzano: [Manzano upon entering Creasy's hospital room] Ah! When I heard it was this hospital, I was so pleased. There is a pastry shop nearby. Delgado's. They have the best pastries in Mexico.


Rayburn: [referring to Creasy, to Miguel Manzano in the Agency for Federal Investigations] He'll deliver more justice in a weekend than ten years of your courts and tribunals.


Creasy: A bullet always tells the truth.


Creasy: Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?

Rayburn: No.


Creasy: Do you know what this is? It's a charger used by convicts to hide money and drugs they tuck it up their rectum. This is pencil detonator, timer, used as a receiver from the pager. This is C4 highly explosive; you put it all together you've got a bomb, not very sophisticated, but very powerful. [whispers in his ear] That's what you have in your ass right now. Don't move! Don't move!


Fuentes: [with both his hands tied to the hood of the car] A last wish, please, please. Please.

Creasy: Last wish? I wish you had more time.


Fuentes: [with both his hands tied to the hood of the car] You know, I-I'm a professional.

Creasy: That's what everybody keeps saying. "I'm just a professional". Everybody keeps saying that to me. "I'm just a professional", "I'm just a professional". I'm getting sick and tired of hearing that.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6.13

Impact/Significance: 6.63

Novelty: 6.13

Classic-ness: 7.13

Rewatchability: 8.67

Audience Score: 8.6 (83% Google, 89% RT)

Total: 43.29


Remaining Questions:

  • What is Samuel Ramos' job?

  • Who killed Kalfus?

  • Why did the Sanchez's keep Pita around?

  • Why did the Sanchez's not kill Creasy themselves and just let him bleed out?

  • Why would a journalist get involved in essentially a modern Western like this with street justice?

  • Why wouldn't Creasy try to take out all the guys at the end since he knew he was going to die?

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page