Man on Fire (2004 film)

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Man on Fire
Man on fireposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tony Scott
Produced by Lucas Foster
Arnon Milchan
Tony Scott
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
Based on Man on Fire 
by A.J. Quinnell
Starring Denzel Washington
Dakota Fanning
Radha Mitchell
Christopher Walken
Marc Anthony
Giancarlo Giannini
Rachel Ticotin
Mickey Rourke
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Lisa Gerrard
Cinematography Paul Cameron
Edited by Christian Wagner
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • April 21, 2004 (2004-04-21)
Running time 146 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Spanish
Budget $70 million
Box office $130,293,714

Man on Fire is a 2004 American thriller film, and the second adaptation of A. J. Quinnell's 1980 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/Force Recon Marine officer turned bodyguard, who goes on a revenge rampage after his charge, nine-year-old 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.

Plot[edit]

In 2003, burnt-out ex-CIA officer and former Force Recon Marine officer John Creasy (Denzel Washington) looks for work and reunites with old friend and comrade Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken), who runs a security firm in Mexico. Because of the extremely high rate of kidnappings in Mexico City for ransom money, businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) hires Creasy through Rayburn to guard his nine-year-old daughter "Pita" (Dakota Fanning), intending to keep him on for only a short period in order to renew his kidnap and ransom insurance on Pita. Creasy suffers from alcoholism, depression, and severe guilt as a result of his past work as a counterinsurgency fighter and assassin, and so works for Samuel at a rate far below what his experience would command. At first Creasy distances himself socially from Pita, but the two soon develop a friendship, which allows Creasy to overcome his demons and to act as a mentor and surrogate father-figure to the girl.

After a piano lesson, Pita is abducted in public; Creasy kills four of the kidnappers, but he is shot multiple times and collapses. The Ramos' agree to deliver a dead drop ransom of US$10 million per the instructions of "La Voz" ("The Voice") (Roberto Sosa), the mastermind behind the kidnapping ring. Samuel's attorney, Jordan Kalfus (Mickey Rourke), arranges for the ransom money to be collected from Samuel's kidnapping insurance policy, then arranges for it to be delivered to the kidnappers. The drop, however, is ambushed by members of "La Hermandad", a Mexican crime syndicate composed of corrupt police officers, leading to several of the ring members killed and the money being stolen. The Voice notifies the Ramos' that Pita will be killed in retribution.

Creasy leaves the hospital before fully recovering from his wounds and vows to Pita's mother Lisa (Radha Mitchell) that he will kill everyone involved in Pita's abduction. Rayburn supplies Creasy with firearms and explosives, while Mariana Guerrero (Rachel Ticotin), a journalist investigating the kidnappings, and Miguel Manzano (Giancarlo Giannini), an agent of the Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI), offer their support. Creasy tortures and murders several targets for their information, and eventually learns from a corrupt high-ranking police officer that the bags stolen from the ransom drop contained only $2.5 million.

Investigating further, Creasy finds Kalfus dead and evidence of Samuel's desperate financial situation, and he confronts him with Lisa present. Samuel confesses to Creasy and Lisa that he agreed to Kalfus' plan to stage Pita's kidnapping, so he could pay off business debts by fraudulently collecting the insurance money. He planned to keep $5 million for himself, and split the rest between Kalfus and the kidnappers. He also confesses to killing Kalfus. Creasy leaves a pistol and one bullet (a faulty round that he had previously used to attempt suicide) for Samuel, who then uses these to commit suicide.

Using the information provided by Creasy, The Voice's identity is revealed to be Daniel Sánchez, who Mariana exposes in the newspapers. Creasy shows up at Daniel's ex-wife's house and is shot by his brother Aurelio (Gero Camilo), who then tries unsuccessfully to escape. Creasy calls Daniel and threatens to kill his family, and Daniel reveals that Pita is still alive; offering to free her if Creasy surrenders himself and brings Aurelio. Creasy agrees and he and Lisa arrive at the exchange site, where he and Pita share a tearful goodbye before he is taken and driven away by the kidnappers. Creasy dies peacefully en route as a result of his gunshot injuries. Daniel Sánchez is later killed by Manzano during an AFI arrest.

Cast[edit]

  • Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy, a former CIA operative, and former Force Recon Marine officer
  • Dakota Fanning as Guadalupe "Lupita" Martin Ramos, "Pita"
  • Radha Mitchell as Lisa Martin Ramos
  • Marc Anthony as Samuel Ramos
  • Christopher Walken as Paul Rayburn, an old friend of Creasy from the CIA, who runs a security firm in Mexico
  • Giancarlo Giannini as Miguel Manzano, director of the AFI
    • Tony Scott stated "Giancarlo loves women, as did this character."[3]
  • Rachel Ticotin as Mariana Garcia Guerrero, a reporter for the Diario Reforma
  • Jesús Ochoa as Victor Fuentes
  • Mickey Rourke as Jordan Kalfus, Samuel Ramos' lawyer
    • Kalfus and Samuel Ramos's father were best friends, and therefore Kalfus has a close relationship with Samuel. Mickey Rourke stated that Kalfus has "a responsibility to his father, to him, to look out for his well-being."[4] Therefore Kalfus "[wants] to be there for him" when Ramos "gets his head underwater a little bit".[4]
  • Angelina Peláez as Sister Anna
  • Roberto Sosa as Daniel Sánchez, "The Voice"
  • Gero Camilo as Aurelio Sánchez
    • He is based on Aurelio Arizmendi López, the brother of Daniel Arizmendi López.[6]
  • Mario Zaragoza as Jorge Ramirez

Production[edit]

Tony Scott, the director, tried to have a version of the film made in 1983, but since the film would have been his second after The Hunger, Paul Davies, a journal article author, theorized that movie producers would have believed that Scott lacked the experience to direct the film. At the time Italy was still a major center of kidnapping in the world. Scott said that Arnon Milchan, the producer of the 1987 film, asked Scott if he was still interested in producing a version of Man on Fire, as Milchan still owned the rights to the series.[7]

20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy.[7] An early draft of the film script was set in Naples.[8] Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy.[7] Mexico City became the setting of the 2004 film because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate,[9] and due to other reasons.[7] As a result, the character Rika Balletto was renamed to Lisa Martin Ramos, and Pinta Balletto was renamed to Lupita "Pita" Ramos. Ettore Balletto became Samuel Ramos. Robert De Niro was originally offered the role of Creasy.[8] Prior to his death, Marlon Brando was the original choice to play Rayburn.[10]

Reception[edit]

The film grossed $77,911,774 in North America and $52,381,940 in other territories, totaling $130,293,714 worldwide.[11] According to Rotten Tomatoes 39% of reviews (from 160 samples) from critics were positive.[12] Conversely, 90% of reviews from audience members were positive.[12] It is rated as "Mixed or average reviews" on Metacritic with a metascore of 47 out of 100 on metacritic, based on 336 reviews.[13] Paul Davies, a journal article author, said that the critical reception to Man on Fire in the United States was "somewhat less than kind" because critics did not like the vigilantism that Creasy uses. Davies argues that "most critics missed" Creasy not taking "sadistic pleasure" in the killings since he kills to get information to get to all of the people involved in the kidnapping of Pita Ramos, and does not like harming innocent parties.[14]

A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book's lines.[9] Quinnell said that usually screenwriters "like to leave their mark on the product."[15] 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."[15]

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."[5]

This film was adapted by Indian director Apoorva Lakhia for his 2005 film Ek Ajnabee.[16]

Soundtrack[edit]

The cut, "Smiling", from the soundtrack composed by Harry Gregson-Williams has been adopted as the theme of a number of television commercials for Omega Watches in 2012–2013.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Making of 'Man on Fire'." (See iMDB entry) About 32:19, interview segment of Tony Scott after interview segment of Marc Anthony
  2. ^ Harrison, Eric. "Man on Fire." Houston Chronicle. April 23, 2004. Retrieved on May 15, 2014.
  3. ^ "Story Notes for Man on Fire" (Archive). AMC TV. Retrieved on May 15, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "The Making of 'Man on Fire'." (See iMDB entry) About 37:50, interview segment of Mickey Rourke
  5. ^ a b Freese, Kevin (Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS). "The Death Cult of the Drug Lords Mexico’s Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed" (Archive). Foreign Military Studies Office. Retrieved on May 15, 2014.
  6. ^ "La industria de secuestro en México es tan lucrativa que no caerá, según un experto" (Archive). Agencia EFE at La Voz (Arizona Star). October 3, 2010. Retrieved on May 15, 2014. "Su historia sirvió al director hollywoodiense Tony Scott para el filme "Man on fire", protagonizado por Denzel Washington y ambientado en el Distrito Federal. Los secuestradores se llamaron Daniel, como "el Mochaorejas", y Aurelio, como su compinche."
  7. ^ a b c d Davies, Paul. Ed: Nancy Billias. "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good': The Theology of Evil in Man on Fire." Posted in Producing and Promoting Evil. Rodopi Publishers, 2010. 221. Retrieved on 30 March 2011. ISBN 90-420-2939-0, ISBN 978-90-420-2939-2.
  8. ^ a b "The Stax Report: Script Review of Man on Fire". IGN. May 8, 2003. Retrieved on January 18, 2011. "Creasy is hired to serve as a bodyguard for the Balletto family of Naples (although since the film is being shot in Mexico City perhaps the story's locale has been changed since this draft was written)." and "Rika Balletto (Mitchell), the beautiful wife of struggling but well-to-do businessman Ettore, convinces her aloof husband to hire protection for their precocious young daughter Pinta (Fanning)."
  9. ^ a b "Social and Personal Obituaries". (Archive) Times of Malta. 14 July 2005. Retrieved on 28 March 2011.
  10. ^ Man on Fire (2004) - Trivia, IMDb, retrieved Tuesday 16th September 2014.
  11. ^ "Man on Fire (2004)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 31, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "Man on Fire". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  13. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/man-on-fire
  14. ^ Davies, Paul. Ed: Nancy Billias. "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good': The Theology of Evil in Man on Fire." Posted in Producing and Promoting Evil. Rodopi Publishers, 2010. 222. Retrieved on 30 March 2011. ISBN 90-420-2939-0, ISBN 978-90-420-2939-2.
  15. ^ a b Massa, Ariadne. "Gozo based author sees first book become a bestseller" (Archive). The Times of Malta. 10 November 2004. Retrieved on 28 March 2012.
  16. ^ Vijayan, Vipin. "Amitabh rocks in Ek Ajnabee". Rediff.com. Retrieved on March 27, 2012.

External links[edit]