See It Again: Man on Fire

Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Rating:

Critics – 39%

Audience – 89%

What You Should Know:

This film has a lot of killing, wounding, kidnapping, torture and murderous intent.  Mr. Washington is very, very dark in this film. This film is graphic, upsetting and in places quite disturbing. This is most definitely not a date movie or a fun, mindless violence kind of film.

Why You Should Reconsider:

Because Mr. Washington is, as usual, exceptional in the film.  Based on reviews I’ve read what people dislike about this movie is that  the story abruptly changes about halfway through. The first half of the movie is the story of a broken man who is searching for  redemption.  The second half of the movie is the story of this man’s vengeance. Apparently many people had a hard time with this transition, I would suggest to anyone that found this upsetting to try watching the movie again. I think getting past that initial shock is the most challenging part of the movie.

Yes, this is a film with a good deal of violence. It is not, however, senseless violence. The second half of the film follows the hero as he attempts to unravel a mystery. Most of the violence comes from him eliciting information from those involved in the mystery. Admittedly the second half is filled with retribution but I think most will find themselves in agreement with the hero’s decisions.


I think the presence of Dakota Fanning led people to believe this would be a sappier, happier film. Tony Scott stated in the film’s commentary that they worked very hard to not make her scenes with Denzel Washington sweet and saccharine. This is the story about a little girl who lives in a place where bodyguards are necessary. The reality of this situation gives even moments of levity a certain weight.

Because of this Man on Fire is not a happy movie. Bad things happen to good people. It is, however, a very rewarding film. The characters are emotionally consistent and honest. The story is well crafted and although there are elements which are extreme, these elements are justified by the background and skill set of the main character.

Author: John Ryan Sullivan

I am a writer and filmmaker.

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