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Man on Fire

Counter-terrorism for dummies

Taking on a terrorist organization backed by an extensive network of corrupt police departments single-handedly sounds like a challenging proposition. However, according to Tony Scott's new thriller Man on Fire, that is a misconception. Denzel Washington stars as retired CIA operative John Creasy, who infiltrates the kidnap-for-profit "La Hermandad", knocking down one bad guy after the other like a string of well-placed dominoes. In fact, he dissects the organization with such ease that you begin to wonder how it was they grew to such power in the first place.
Each bad guy knows exactly where to direct Creasy to get him one step closer to the organization's leader and does so after enduring some serious physical punishment. Yet even with this simple setup, a number of ends remain untied, the most disturbing of which is a misplaced murder charge.

It's an odd marketing strategy for a movie to give away half of the story in the trailer. However, even though we know that the abduction of Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning) is imminent, the interaction between Fanning and Washington is still engaging. Washington ably carries the second half of the movie- as no other character gets in more than a few words before he's executed- but the details of the kidnapping plot are unveiled so unskillfully that they negate Denzel's convincing performance.

Stars: 2 out 5