Saturday, February 05, 2005

That had to hurt...

Last night was an evening of indolence and the viewing of hired DVDS, and so I present for your reading pleasure my review of our first film for the evening, and boy was it a doozy!

Man On Fire was, like most Tony Scott films, a tad over-directed and - like Spy Game - is also a tad over-edited, with Mr Scott a little too in love with rapid cuts, moving cameras and tricky angles. That said, it was an extremely atmospheric film where Creasy (Denzel Washington), an alcoholic, ex-"counter-insurgent" (read assassin), is in Mexico City to visit his friend Rayburn (Cristopher Walken) and gets offered the job of protecting young girl Lupita (Dakota Fanning) from kidnapping.

Of course, Lupita shows the jaded Creasy that there's more to life than Jack Daniels and suicidal ideation and of course Lupita is kidnapped by a professional gang of kidnappers and of course Creasy is seriously wounded in the shootout (while still managing to take down four of the kidnappers and of course some of the kidnappers are crooked cops and of course Creasy staggers out of his hospital bed vowing revenge. All this can probably be accepted as bound to happen.

However, Creasy isn't your average "beat up the suspect and get the information" kind of a guy and so, with the help of a sexy reporter and a crusty old anti-corruption cop, he proceeds to work his way through the kidnappers in new and interesting ways. A little finger removal and C4 insertion later and he's talkig to the man who took Lupita and he is really not happy.

The principle cast do extremely well in this film, with Washington especially believable as a crusty, burned-out shell (as opposed to his usual polished charm). Walken is for once not the creepiest thing in the film (which in many ways is creepy in and of itself) and Fanning is surprisingly good as Lupita. They managed to produce a film featuring a cute 8 year old girl and not have us want to strangle her, no mean feat. The violence is graphic, but not omnipresent and the games Scott plays with his subtitles are extremely slick. They appear in time to people's speech, get bigger when people start to shout and fade out gradually, leaving characters' words literally hanging in the air.

With frequent wincing from the audience and more than a few snappy lines, Man on Fire has been added to my Must Buy List.

Four severed kidnapper's fingers.


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