Man on Fire (18)
<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5Rate this
Time Out saysExtended scenes of boozy washed-up bodyguard Denzel Washington bonding with his precocious ten-year-old charge (Dakota Fanning) see the running-time of this revenge saga touching 150 minutes, when it’s obvious to you, me and Tony Scott’s cigar butt that they’re mere formalities before the girl’s inevitable kidnapping and the bit we’re waiting for: Denzel taking out the bad guys. Since the Mexico City setting is already established as a hotbed of iniquity, we can expect this to be pretty chewy, and so it is, as Denzel launches into a virtuoso display of scumbag-wasting. Basically, it’s a Steven Seagal flick decked out to the nines, with the protagonist adopting the tooled-up Bushian approach of decimating the opposition first, then asking questions. It ought to be seriously unpalatable stuff, yet there’s something so cherishably naff about Scott’s jumping-bean cutting and hokey-cokey camerawork that it’s almost a guilty pleasure, hitting inspired heights of ridiculousness when wailing Lisa Gerrard on the soundtrack and lingering close-ups of Denzel’s St Jude medallion try to convince us of some spiritual redemption. There’s steely support from distraught mum Radha Mitchell, while Special Ops buddy Christopher Walken keeps a straight-ish face through lines like ‘his art is death and he’s about to paint his masterpiece’. Yes, it’s juvenile fan-boy gubbins (Tarantino’s a fan), but Scott’s still the daddy of sleazy Mexicano sadisto-flash trash.