Man on Fire
Tony Scott and Denzel Washington. Is there any more to say about the run up to seeing this movie? This film promised slick action and stylish filming, and perhaps the thought that we might see something a bit meatier from both Scott and Washington.
Add to that mix the fantastic Dakota Fanning and a storyline which grabs you from the opening scene, as well as a couple of great cameos from Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken, and we have an excellent sounding film.
The film delivered all that I expected along with a far more entertaining script and story than I had first imagined.
The film has a unique style to it that is clearly something from one of the Scott brothers. It uses multiple shots and cameras to build a strange transition, flashback or general unreal feel to a scene. It comprises of fast cuts, flashes, multiple camera speeds, etc. The end result is quite cool, and although sometimes it feels a little overused it is effective most of the time, whereas sometimes it's distracting and slightly too much.
The story is a strong and exciting tale of kidnapping in South America. Rather the act of kidnapping for cash as a business. It's also the tale of a disillusioned black ops soldier abandoned by the Government who created him, looked at on a very personal and satisfying level, leaving all that soldiering stuff behind. Overall though it's a tale about a man who has lost everything, and finds redemption in his shared love for a little girl, when she is harmed, he decides to vent his anger on those that took her.
Some of these scenes of retribution are quite strong, and later in the audio commentary Scott reveals that
Washington plays the role well, fighting his inner demons, holding everything internally, and through a simple job for a friend finding the love and friendship that opens him up and lets him find a purpose and something to live and fight for. Rhada Mitchell is also surprisingly strong and gives a solid performance, but once again Fanning proves herself to be a truly wonderful actress and outshines everyone onscreen with her.
Walken deserves a mention as he plays against his type of late. He's a good guy, a caring guy, someone who really does love Creasy as a brother, and the scene where he gets out of bed to answer his call shows how strong Walken can play the emotional moments.
We're also treated to a delicious, if not too short, performance from Rourke. All in all the casting for this film is fantastic and brilliantly spot on. All of these actors portray some extremely strong and rich characters.
Interestingly the film manages to build on an emotional level quite early on, and quite surreptitiously. There's nothing overly manipulative about the building of the characters, it's done slowly, solidly and well, and before you know it you are entangled in the connection between Creasy and Pita. There's a lot of subtlety about this relationship and the feelings involved, and it's nice to see this so well played out.
The story is really good, and I was surprised how taken into it I was. Although the style sometimes gets a little much the film as a whole does not go over the top and manages to keep itself held back somewhat, as much about this film is. Saying that though there are the traditional Scott moments with some superb action sequences, but all the time it's kept pointed at that personal level.
Presented: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
The picture is very good and stays sharp and balanced through a host of different lighting conditions. Due to the different cameras and film used throughout, there's a great variance in colour reproduction, but through the style the picture remains very solid.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
It's a Scott film, that means lots of action, and that means plenty of noise. The sound is fantastic through the action pieces, and the sound system was really taking a punch during some scenes. Then, during the quieter dialogue moments, the audio level would be enough to hear, so often with films featuring loud sequences, the quieter moments are lost.
Presented: Audio Commentary with Tony Scott, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending
The Deleted Scenes were good, especially with the excellent feature of Scott's added commentary. Not all the deleted scenes were included though, and these shown were concentrating on the removed plot line of the affair between Creasy and Lisa.
The Alternative Ending is superb, and one which I wish they had used. It provides a much more emotive payoff at the end of the film, and gives a hugely satisfying end to the tale. As it is the ending is steeped much more in reality, and surprisingly for Scott, much quieter.
Scott reveals a lot during the Audio Commentary, talking about why he uses multiple cameras during scenes, and what these cameras are. He also shows his genuine awareness for all facets of filmmaking, from actors, casting, film processing, his external persona, and so on. It's an interesting commentary, and one that matches Sydney Pollack's on The Interpreter DVD, and yet they are such different directors.
This is a superb film that touches on so much. Not only an action film, it also has a fair amount about relationships and emotion, something which surprised me when I watched the film. You'll find that you get caught up in the main characters and their connection with each other, and particularly with the three leads performances. A very good film which I could see myself watching again.
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