Man on Fire is a stylish thriller with excellent performances at the heart. Denzel Washington plays Creasey, an ex CIA/assassin who is too tired of the killing. Now out of the game, Creasey sticks to drinking in Mexico City. Enter Rayburn, an old buddy (played by the wonderful Christopher Walken). He has a potential job for the down and out Creasey. A string of abductions and kidnappings in the city (Mexico City is the real life kidnap capital of the world) forces a young industrialist (Marc Anthony)and h…s wife (Radha Mitchell)to hire Creasy as a bodyguard for their 10 year old daughter Pita (played by Dakota Fanning). Well…let’s just say…the bodyguarding doesn’t go too well. And Creasey needs to find Pita before it’s too late.
Man on Fire is directed by Tony Scott. Scott is a stylist, and the movie definitely has stylistic excess. But this is the man who invented stylistic excess with Top Gun. But Scott is more successful when he has great actors to inhabit his stylish canvas, True Romance and Crimson Tide are great examples. Scott has become more “modern” with his use of jump cuts and freaky camera angles. It’s a dizzying experience, but thankfully this over the top effort is fleshed out by the excellent performances of Denzel and Dakota Fanning (she will be a star one day). The movie is way too long (2 and a half hours for a genre thriller??). But the peformances and the script (by Mystic River‘s Brian Helgeland) hold Scott’s over direction in check.
Two tracks here. You can listen in DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1. DTS usually gets the nod on my speakers. But both mixes are very strong. Dialogue is clean, clear and distortion free. The musical score comes through loud and strong. Sound effects can be heard on the rear speakers. There is some excellent directionality here; the explosions rocked the house (literally). Bass is quite strong as well. Very impressive sound overall.
Presented in anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen, this transfer a welcome sight for the eyes. Colors are vivid, but natural. Scott occasionally switches to different film stock over the course of the movie. The intention is to put us in the frenetic world of the protagonist and the dramatic situation. This effect comes through quite clearly on the transfer; the surrealistic color design looks very good. Edge enhancement and haloing are minimal. Digital artifacts are scarce. An excellent transfer from Fox.
There are two audio commentaries on Disc One. Tony Scott is an entertaning listen. Like his brother, Ridley Scott, Tony enjoys talking about the process of filmmaking. This is a project that Scott has wanted to make for over 20 years. His passion for the story is quite evident. The second commentary is by Dakota Fanning, producer Lucas Foster, and screenwriter Brian Helgeland. Fanning is a delight and Foster and Helgeland have tons of pertinent info about the film.
On Disc Two there are many other features. First up is a documentary called “Vengeance is Mine: Reinventing Man on Fire”. This feature length documentary is very entertaining and offers a lot of great personal stories about the making of this film. The feature called Pita’s Abduction is an extremely thorough examination of the abduction scene from many aspects of production, from script to storyboards, to multi-angle breakdowns. A optional Tony Scott commentary is also provided. Rounding out the extras are 15 deleted scenes (which all look great, no unfinished process scenes), a photo gallery, a music video and trailers.
Man on Fire is a stylish, but overlong, film about the nature of vengeance. Tony Scott really throws in everything but the kitchen sink here, and the performances are quite excellent. Strong features, audio, and video makes this Man on Fire All Access Collector’s Edition another success for Fox and DVD lovers alike.
Special Features List
- Two Audio Commentaries
- Feature length documentary
- “Pita’s Abduction” feature
- Deleted Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Music Video