The Daily Cup 22 Man On Fire

Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.

This is the second revenge film I’ve watched in 2018 (check out Dead Man’s Shoes for the other). For me as a film fan, I find revenge films very entertaining, I think it is because the exhibit the kind of righteous justice that is absent from the real world. In these films we know the bad guys are bad, and they deserve punishment, and they get it. In these films, innocent people are rarely if ever killed by mistake. We are assured of their guilt, and free to enjoy the fantasy world where they receive what they have coming to them.

Man on Fire (2004) is Director Tony Scott’s methodical and chilling revenge film. Starring Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy, an alcoholic Marine Veteran and former CIA assassin. He takes on bodyguard work in Mexico, arranged by his friend Paul Reyburn (Christopher Walken). He enters the service of the Ramos family, a Mexican businessman and his American wife. His duty is to protect their daughter Lupita Ramos (Dakota Fanning). Things go awry and John Creasy goes on a killing spree, enacting his own brutal revenge. In the words of Reyburn “Creasy's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece.”

Tony Scott is one of the greatest action directors of all time. His films are slick, entertaining, tension filled, and dynamically shot. Man On Fire is likely his most stylistic film, he went buck wild with with slow motion insert shots, wild color schemes, and a creative use of subtitles for the Spanish spoken in the film. I found it most interesting in this film is that it is a approach to the monomyth you don’t always see. Our hero in this one is not young, and they are flawed, anti-social, and uncharismatic. John Creasy is an ice cube, and the first 50 minutes of the film is him slowly melting to the charm of young Lupita, helping her improve her swimming skills through a series of training montages.

At first you find yourself wondering why Scott spends so much time without action, in an action movie. What he is cleverly doing is building a relationship between Luptia and Creasy that is tangible and real. They both care for each other greatly. When Lupita kidnapped and presumed murdered in the botched ransom attempt, you totally buy why Creasy goes on his killing spree through the Mexican kidnapping underworld. You are rooting for him as he horrible tortures people to get what he needs to get his revenge. You buy his rage, because you watched his heart melt in friendship to Lupita, and now he is going to make the ones that killed her pay. My only real complaint of this film is that they decided to go with Lupita being a cute little white girl that Creasy has to save. I wish either Scott or the studio would've had the guts to have a Mexican girl as the one who needed saving. We don't have many of those stories, and we have plenty of "save the white girl" stories.

 It takes 50 minutes to get to this part, but damn does the set up make it powerful.

It takes 50 minutes to get to this part, but damn does the set up make it powerful.

I don’t think this film could get made today. No studio would ever have the guts to allow an action film to devote so much time to building a relationship between characters, or some of the extreme acts of violence and torture. This film wouldn’t be good without all of these elements. On one hand this is a straight up revenge action film, and on the other it’s about a broken and lost man finding purpose and giving his all to that purpose. For such a brutal film it’s oddly beautiful and memorable. One of Tony Scott’s best films.


Movies new to me watched: 17/292

Other movies: 5/73

Total movies watched: 22/365

Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at or on Twitter at @kbdekker.