Man on Fire (2004)
November 8, 2022 9:12 PM - Subscribe

In Mexico City, a former CIA operative swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.

Starring Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Rachel Ticotin, and Giancarlo Giannini.

Directed by Tony Scott and written by Brian Helgeland. Apparently, Helgeland first saw the original Man on Fire (1987, starring Scott Glenn) when he was renting videos in the late '80s. He walked in to the video store where Quentin Tarantino was working and asked what was good. Tarantino recommended "Man on Fire".

Available for streaming on Amazon Prime, for sale or digital rental in numerous places.
posted by kitten kaboodle (6 comments total)
#fund-ff sends another $5 to MeFi!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 PM on November 8, 2022

I was interested in posting both this and the original 1987 version with Scott Glenn when I stumbled upon the 1987 film on Prime a while ago. I'd always wanted to see it and compare the two, but that was the first time I found it anywhere once video stores disappeared. Unfortunately, I missed the window and that version seems to have moved to Starz for streaming and is only for rental now in most places. But it is a very interesting comparison--the Denzel version is much more violent, even though they're both pretty intense, and the acting is all around much better in the 2004 version. Though the 1987 has very young Joe Pesci chewing scenery, I will give it that; still, I love Walken here, he's fantastic in the supportive old CIA buddy role. I also really enjoy the interesting subtitles treatment Scott used in this.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:19 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Somehow I never realized this was a remake!
posted by cendawanita at 9:29 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this has been on miscellaneous cable for a few years, so I've seen it a few times, but I've been really wanting to see the original.

I like tracing back movie pedigrees, and the older one was directed by a French guy who made what looks like a really interesting war drama set in 90s Yugoslavia. The writer, previous to writing many Schwartzenegger-type gun movies, wrote the screenplay to Once Upon A Time In The West.

One thing about the Denzel version is that I have a hard time believing he has a drinking problem.
posted by rhizome at 2:13 AM on November 9, 2022

LOL, yeah, that's true. One thing that was interesting doing a comparison of the two movies is that they both feel very specifically of their setting and time period. The original is almost hilariously '80s European in the way so many of those English-language thriller/action movies were, and the 2004 just screams early aughts incredibly TONY SCOTT in every possible way.

I also think that by casting a much younger girl as the protectee, it made the relationship feel slightly less skeevy. It feels much more like he's getting wrapped up in the life of a child he wishes was his own, being more of a parental figure, than a really hot bodyguard you're having pubescent philosophical discussions with.

Also really happy that they went with the downbeat ending on this one instead of trying to replicate the fake-out. It made his sacrifice feel real, and important, and I really liked those last shots.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:17 PM on November 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

I had no idea this was a remake, either. I’ve probably seen this via cable a half-dozen times. It’s a pretty solid film. There’s a certain Terminator-esque relentlessness to Denzel’s character that seems to work well. The ending’s tough, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:18 PM on November 9, 2022

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