Man on Fire (2004 film)

Man on Fire (2004 film)
Man On Fire

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tony Scott
Produced by Lucas Foster
Arnon Milchan
Tony Scott
Written by Brian Helgeland
Starring Denzel Washington
Dakota Fanning
Christopher Walken
Giancarlo Giannini
Radha Mitchell
Marc Anthony
Rachel Ticotin
and Mickey Rourke
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Lisa Gerrard
Cinematography Paul Cameron
Editing by Christian Wagner
Studio Regency Enterprises
New Regency
Scott Free Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) April 23, 2004 (2004-04-23)
Running time 146 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million
Box office $130,293,714

Man on Fire is a 2004 American thriller film, based on the 1980 novel of the same name by A. J. Quinnell. Another film based on the same novel was also filmed in 1987.

Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as a despondent former CIA operative turned bodyguard. It also stars Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin and Mickey Rourke.



Former Force Recon Marine officer and CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington) travels to Ciudad Juarez to visit his friend and former CIA colleague Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken) who owns a private-sector security firm to protect business executives. Creasy confides that he has become an alcoholic, disillusioned with life because of the horrors of his past, and Rayburn offers his support, encouraging Creasy to take a job as a bodyguard in Mexico City.

Because of the extremely high rate of kidnappings in Mexico City for the lucrative ransom money, businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) hires Creasy to guard his nine year-old daughter Lupita "Pita" (Dakota Fanning) and Creasy reluctantly accepts. Pita immediately takes a liking to Creasy, though he remains distant and unapproachable due to his depression. After a night of heavy drinking of Jack Daniels, Creasy attempts to commit suicide, but the chambered round in his gun fails to fire. Considering it a sign to live on, he begins to warm up to Pita and they develop a deep friendship. He mentors Pita and through his training and encouragement she wins a swim meet competition. Pita gives Creasy an emblem of Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes as a token of appreciation and he wears it as a necklace from then on.

A gang of kidnappers strike when Creasy is ready to pick up Pita from her piano lesson and despite killing four of the assailants, Creasy is shot multiple times and is unable to prevent her abduction. The Ramos' agree to deliver a dead drop ransom of US$10 million per the instructions of "The Voice" (Roberto Sosa), the mastermind of the kidnapping ring. The drop, however, is ambushed by members of a Mexican crime syndicate called "La Hermandad" and the money is stolen, resulting in The Voice notifying the Ramoses that Pita will not be returned.

Upon hearing the news of Pita's assumed death, Creasy leaves the hospital before fully recovering from his wounds and uses one of Rayburn's contacts to procure a formidable arsenal including multiple sawed-off shotguns, hand guns, C-4 explosives, and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. He vows to Pita's mother Lisa (Radha Mitchell) that "he plans to kill everyone who profited from or was involved in anyway with the kidnapping" then leaves to search the crime scene for clues.

Mariana Guerrero (Rachel Ticotin), a newspaper columnist for the Diario Reforma, meets with Creasy at the crime scene and offers to use her connections to help. She provides the name of the corrupt Judicial policeman who drove the vehicle used in the kidnapping. Creasy finds and tortures him for information by cutting off the man's ear and fingers duct taped to a steering wheel. Creasy stops the bleeding with a hot cigarette lighter. Before dying, the man explains his team left Pita with guardians who operate out of a rave club in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (Neza City).

At the rave club, Creasy kills two guardians point blank with a sawed-off shotgun to gain information on the banking system the kidnapping ring uses to pay its network of employees as well as a tip that Victor Fuentes (Jesús Ochoa), Lieutenant for the Judicial Police's Anti-Kidnapping Division, was involved in the botched drop. Mariana provides Creasy with the name of the depositor to the bank account of the kidnapping ring who happens to be The Voice's ex-wife.

Creasy uses the RPG to ambush Fuentes' convoy and abducts him, bringing Fuentes to the location where the ransom money was stolen to interrogate him. He tie wraps Fuentes to a car and sticks a bomb made of C-4 in his rectum, then gives him five minutes to talk. Fuentes reveals himself to be the president of La Hermandad and admits to having stolen the ransom but claims there was only $2.5 million and not the full $10 million that was requested by The Voice. He speculates that Samuel's attorney, Jordan Kalfus (Mickey Rourke) took the missing $7.5 million before the money was sent to the drop.

Creasy leaves to follow the new lead as the bomb in Fuentes' rectum detonates. Upon being confronted with the incriminating evidence, Samuel confesses that he agreed to Kalfus' plan for Pita's kidnapping because he intended to pay off business debts with his share of the missing insurance money provided for the ransom. He assumed she would not be harmed, but when La Hermandad unexpectedly stole the ransom money and Pita was not returned, he killed Kalfus in revenge. After the confession, Samuel accepts Creasy's gun and kills himself with the same bullet that failed to fire in Creasy's suicide attempt.

Mariana uses information from AFI Detective Miguel Manzano's (Giancarlo Giannini) concurrent investigation to write an article revealing The Voice's identity as Daniel Sánchez. Creasy shows up to Daniel's ex-wife's house and captures his brother Aurelio (Gero Camilo) during which time he blows his four fingers off with a sawed-off shotgun. He calls Daniel to tell him he is going to take his family apart "piece-by-piece" and demands a meeting. Daniel reveals that Pita is still alive and offers to free her if Creasy surrenders himself with Aurelio. Creasy agrees and he and Lisa meet at the exchange site where the kidnappers release Pita as Creasy releases Aurelio. Creasy then surrenders himself after giving Pita a final hug goodbye before she returns to her mother. Creasy is driven away by the kidnappers and kisses the Saint Jude medal before he finally succumbs to his wounds, dying in the backseat as he looks upon the Popocatépetl volcano on the horizon.

An epilogue reveals that Daniel Sánchez was killed by Manzano during a police raid that same day, his location discovered by AFI officers who were following Creasy's actions.


  • Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy
  • Dakota Fanning as Lupita-Martin Ramos, "Pita"
  • Marc Anthony as Samuel Ramos
  • Radha Mitchell as Lisa-Martin Ramos
  • Christopher Walken as Paul Rayburn, an old friend of Creasy, from the CIA who runs a security firm in Mexico.
  • Giancarlo Giannini as Miguel Manzano, director of the AFI.
  • Rachel Ticotin as Mariana Garcia Guerrero, a reporter for the Diario Reforma.
  • Jesús Ochoa as Victor Fuentes
  • Mickey Rourke as Jordan Kalfus, Samuel Ramos' lawyer.
  • Angelina Peláez as Sister Anna
  • Roberto Sosa as Daniel Rosas Sanchez a.k.a "The Voice"
  • Gero Camilo as Aurelio Rosas Sanchez
  • Mario Zaragoza as Jorge Ramirez


Tony Scott, the director, tried to have a version of the film made in 1983, but since the film would have been his second after The Hunger, Paul Davies, a journal article author, theorized that movie producers would have believed that Scott lacked the experience to direct the film. At the time Italy was still a major center of kidnapping in the world. Scott said that Arnon Milchan, the producer of the 1987 film, asked Scott if he was still interested in producing a version of Man on Fire, as Milchan still owned the rights to the series.[1]

20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy.[1] An early draft of the film script was set in Naples.[2] Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy.[1] Mexico City became the setting of the 2004 film because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate,[3] and due to other reasons.[1] As a result, the character Rika Balletto was renamed to Lisa Martin Ramos, and Pinta Balletto was renamed to Lupita "Pita" Ramos. Ettore Balletto became Samuel Ramos. Robert De Niro was originally offered the role of Creasy.[2]


The film grossed $77,911,774 in North America and $52,381,940 in other territories, totaling $130,293,714 worldwide.[4] According to Rotten Tomatoes only 39% of reviews (from 158 samples) from critics were positive.[5] Paul Davies, a journal article author, said that the critical reception to Man on Fire in the United States was "somewhat less than kind" because critics did not like the vigilantism that Creasy uses. Davies argues that "most critics missed" Creasy not taking "sadistic pleasure" in the killings since he kills to get information to get to all of the people involved in the kidnapping of Pita Ramos, and does not like harming innocent parties.[6] A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, and that he was satisfied that the film used many of the book's lines. The Times of Malta stated that the overall critical acclaim was positive.[3]

This film's script was copied by Indian director Apoorva Lakhia for his 2005 film Ek Ajnabee.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Davies, Paul. Ed: Nancy Billias. "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good': The Theology of Evil in Man on Fire." Posted in Producing and Promoting Evil. Rodopi Publishers, 2010. 221. Retrieved on 30 March 2011. ISBN 9042029390, 9789042029392.
  2. ^ a b "The Stax Report: Script Review of Man on Fire." IGN. May 8, 2003. Retrieved on January 18, 2011. "Creasy is hired to serve as a bodyguard for the Balletto family of Naples (although since the film is being shot in Mexico City perhaps the story's locale has been changed since this draft was written)." and "Rika Balletto (Mitchell), the beautiful wife of struggling but well-to-do businessman Ettore, convinces her aloof husband to hire protection for their precocious young daughter Pinta (Fanning)."
  3. ^ a b "Social and Personal Obituaries." Times of Malta. Thursday 14 July 2005. Retrieved on 28 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Man on Fire (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Man on Fire (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ Davies, Paul. Ed: Nancy Billias. "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good': The Theology of Evil in Man on Fire." Posted in Producing and Promoting Evil. Rodopi Publishers, 2010. 222. Retrieved on 30 March 2011. ISBN 9042029390, 9789042029392.

External links

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