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MAN ON FIRE (2004)

Director: Tony Scott
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland (from novel by AJ Quinnell)

Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony, Radha Mitchell, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Giannini, Rachel Ticotin, Mickey Rourke

MPAA Rating: R
Color, approx 142 minutes
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller

Reviewed by Jim Lewis

"Do you think God will forgive us for what we’ve done?" asks Creasy (Denzel Washington) of Rayburn, his former colleague as a CIA assassin (Christopher Walken).

John Creasy is a burned out, drunken US government killer who is invited to Mexico City by his old friend to do personal security work. A ferocious wave of kidnappings, twenty-four in the past six days, has wealthy families hiring bodyguards for their children and families.

Marc Anthony (The singer and J-Lo husband) is head of the Ramos family, wishing to protect his daughter. He hires Creasy to become chauffer and security for Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning.)

Initially unwilling to be befriended by the little girl, Creasy alienates her, then comes back around. He takes an interest in her athletic pursuits. He becomes a mentor to her, and his sorry life begins to improve.

When their bond has developed, Pita is abducted by a very organized and murderous gang. Creasy swears death to anyone involved in the kidnapping. Then the movie begins. Cue the getting-down-to-business-music. Creasy, the artist of torture and killing, shifts into S (for Slaughter). Fans of vengeance, this is why you showed up.

Like Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny in "Unforgiven," avenging his murdered friend in the saloon, Washington’s John Creasy is a samurai on a mission.

There are surprises, twists, turns, cleverness and bravado laced with no fear of death. Worth seeing. More details come out on second viewing. Highly recommended for those who like this genre.

Questions for the coffee clatch: The car with the bad man tied to the hood, where was the explosive? What was special about the bullet left at the Ramos house? Why did Creasy agree to the deal?

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