Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boozed, Battered and Blasted Away

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boozed, Battered and Blasted Away

Article excerpt


Denzel Washington is a man with too many guns in a movie that tries too hard to impress


Cert 18, 146 mins

THE trouble with Tony Scott, Ridley ' s brother, is that enough is never enough. He's an expert filmmaker who gilds the lily so thoroughly that the entire garden ends up looking fake.

Man on Fire, technically one of his best movies, batters you into submission with so much whippan camerawork and incendiary editing that the eyes beg for mercy long before the end.

Yet he is capable of quieter moments in the first half of this violent and noisy revenge movie, which has a dignified centre in Denzel Washington as Creasy, an alcoholic ex-Special Forces man of whom buddy Christopher Walken says: "Creasy's art is death. And he's about to paint his masterpiece."

Creasy has been taken on by a rich Mexican family to protect their daughter (Dakota Fanning) from kidnappers who haunt Mexico City. He fails when he gets shot as she is taken off by bandits who are part of a highup conspiracy.

After a stay in hospital, he determines to wipe out the offenders in any way he can, cutting off fingers to extract information and blowing up the powerful head man with a fuse up his posterior. It's exciting stuff if you don't object to the macho connotations. But what goes before is the best part of the film.

Unable to stop drinking, Creasy refuses any relationship with the girl until slowly captivated by her need to be loved. He teaches her to swim better, stops glugging whisky and starts to see a vague reason for his sorry existence. When she's gone, he goes berserk, with what seems like an unlimited arsenal of weaponry.

The acting, particularly from Washington, is fine. Fanning isn't as irritating as she was in Uptown Girls, Walken has a chance to act rather than sneer and Mickey Rourke is a nasty lawyer. …

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