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Man on Fire review
Not Denzel's best, but close


He has a background in government/military operations. They killed those close to him and left him for dead. Now, he's coming after them in revenge, and he will kill everybody in their family and all they hold dear. He is the Punisher. Oh wait, no he's not. Man on Fire and The Punisher have uncannily similar stories. Together with Kill Bill Vol. 2, it's turning into a crowded marketplace for vengeance. In term of quality, Man on Fire is the better film. Its story is more compelling, it has a more human protagonist, and has more revenge action going for it. For star Denzel Washington, it is reminiscent of dark performance in Training Day. Here, as John Creasy, he's not as full out villainous, but he still very intimidating. Creasy gets a job as the bodyguard for the wealthy Ramos family in Mexico, protecting their young daughter Pita, played by the talented Dakota Fanning.

This movie's hyperactive style, especially in the latter half of the film, adds a sense of energy to an otherwise familiar story. It bristles with intensity and feels like an extended music video. The camera zooms in and out quickly, then goes in and out of focus. Colors wash across the screen, and he moves quickly from one shot to another. It even uses subtitles effectively, changing the size of the text to mimic the delivery of the speech. It's all a bunch of tricks, but the tricks work. The violence seems even more dangerous, and Creasy even more like a superhero. There is tension, but the drama is not as high as Scott would hope. The entire film plays off more like a video game, with Washington playing a villainous hero, or a heroic villain. It's kind of 'fun' watching Creasy get his revenge, the same way it's fun watching a good slasher flick.

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