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Man on Fire

Film Man on Fire
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Revenge is a meal best served cold
In Mexico City, criminal gangs are kidnapping rich people and their families for the lucrative ransom money. A young man, "Eighteen," is walking through the city streets with his girlfriend, and he is kidnapped. As police detective Victor Fuentes (Jesús Ochoa) consoles the family, Eighteen's wealthy father receives a call from human trafficker Daniel Sanchez (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), who is very interested in Eighteen's ten million dollar life insurance policy. The father and Fuentes arrange a dead drop, and Eighteen is found near a freeway overpass, blindfolded and in his underwear, but alive. Mexican businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) discusses this incident with his attorney Jordan Kalfus (Mickey Rourke), as it has convinced Ramos' wife, Lisa (Radha Mitchell), that they need to hire a bodyguard for their nine-year-old daughter Lupita "Pita" Ramos (Dakota Fanning). Ramos is reluctant to do this, and it is implied that he is having financial problems, as Pita had a bodyguard until recently but they had to let him go. Kalfus reminds Ramos that he needs to hire another bodyguard in order to renew the family's ransom insurance, and recommends he talk to Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken), a former CIA agent who now runs an executive security firm. Rayburn refers the family to his old CIA buddy John Creasy (Denzel Washington).Ramos is impressed with Creasy's résumé, which includes a variety of counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism activities. However, Creasy is burned out from all the death and horror and has taken to alcoholism to ease the burden. He even attempts suicide, which fails when his gun misfires. Creasy is not interested in bodyguard work and even less with the youngster, but he needs a job. Creasy's initial impatience slowly fades as he finds himself opening up to the child. He replaces her parents in their absence, giving her advice and coaching her in her swimming lessons and competitions. He helps her overcome her fear of the sound of starter pistols, turning it into an eagerness to move at the sound of one. Pita gives Creasy an emblem of St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, saying she bought it for him with her own money.Shortly after delivering her to a piano audition, Creasy notices a suspicious vehicle driving past and a pair of police cars blocking off the surrounding street. As Pita emerges from the building and freezes, Creasy pulls out his gun and fires a shot into the air, similar to a starter pistol, startling her into running away. During the ensuing gun battle, four of the attackers are fatally shot, including two corrupt police officers. The battle leaves Creasy seriously wounded and unconscious, allowing the surviving kidnappers to grab the child.The police chief publicly ridicules Creasy while he is unconscious in the hospital, claiming he murdered the two police officers. A journalist, Mariana Guerrero (Rachel Ticotin) finds it suspicious that the cops were supposed to be off duty, yet were in uniform and driving squad cars. Her Federal Ministerial Police contact, Miguel Manzano (Giancarlo Giannini), matter of factly states that the cops were corrupt. They decide to talk to Creasy once he has recovered.Although Kalfus wants the police kept out of the negotiation for Pita's release, the death of the two officers make the kidnapping a police matter, so Fuentes takes charge, assuring the family that the chances of Pita's safe return are good as long as they listen to him. Soon after, Sanchez demands a dead drop ransom of ten million dollars in exchange for Pita. Although Ramos is instructed to come to the drop alone, Fuentes advises against this, and accompanies Ramos to the drop. The drop goes badly, as the kidnappers are ambushed, and Ramos and Fuentes are forced to flee. A furious Sanchez reveals that his nephew was killed in the ambush, and he blames this on Ramos disobeying his instructions. He says that Pita is lost to them forever, which is assumed to mean she is dead.Rayburn learns about Creasy's situation and helps Creasy escape to a safe house where he can recover from his injuries. After Creasy is well, he returns to Pita's home and promises Lisa that he will kill everyone who was involved in, or profited from, the kidnapping. With help from Guerrero and Manzano, Creasy learns that the corrupt cops belong to a powerful crime syndicate called La Hermandad (Spanish for "the Brotherhood"). Creasy kidnaps and tortures several Brotherhood members, forcing them to reveal the names of the people involved in the kidnapping ring, including Fuentes. With help from Guerrero, he learns that Fuentes will be travelling through the city in a high security motorcade. Using a combination of heavy weaponry and advanced guerrilla tactics, Creasy eradicates Fuentes' security detail, destroys his armored escort with a rocket launcher, then finally corners the man and knocks him out.Under interrogation, Fuentes reveals that he ambushed the dead drop because he had had organized so many of them in the past, he thought it would be easy money. However, the bags stolen from the drop only contained 2.5 million, a quarter of the actual ransom. Fuentes begs to be spared, insisting that he is a just a hired professional like Creasy. A disgusted Creasy reveals that he planted an explosive within Fuentes' rectum while he was unconscious, and it will explode in five minutes. As Creasy walks away, Fuentes spends the last few minutes of his life screaming until the explosive detonates, killing him.Creasy traces another 2.5 million to Kalfus and goes to his house to confront him, only to find his decapitated body floating in a pool. He confronts Ramos, who admits that he was danger of going bankrupt, so Kalfus suggested they stage Pita's kidnapping so he could collect the insurance money. Kalfus had made most of the arrangements, and assured Ramos that Pita would simply be watching cartoons in a safehouse for a few hours. Things went south once Fuentes got too greedy, Ramos blamed Kalfus for this and had him executed. Creasy leaves a pistol (the same one from his failed suicide attempt) and a single bullet on the table, and after he leaves, Ramos kills himself.As Creasy continues his pursuit of Sanchez, Manzano's men are tracking him electronically. Guerrero prepares to publish Sanchez' photo in the newspaper but is attacked on the way home by a gang member who threatens to kill her if she publishes the picture. The paper publishes it anyway and the headlines label it "Tiene Vo el Miedo" ("Fear has a Voice").After Creasy learns where Sanchez' brother Aurelio (Gero Camilo) lives, he gains access to his apartment. Aurelio wounds Creasy in the chest, but Creasy is able to chase him. Aurelio attempts to escape in a VW bus, but Creasy wounds him and he crashes into a large truck. Creasy takes Aurelio back to his apartment and captures Sanchez' very pregnant wife, Raina. He tortures Aurelio and forces Raina to page Sanchez who then calls back.Creasy is intent on killing Sanchez when Sanchez reveals that Pita is still alive. He offers to release her if Creasy surrenders himself and lets Aurelio live. Creasy agrees and takes Lisa to a remote rural area to make the exchange. After Pita runs to her mother, Aurelio and Creasy get into a car, which speeds off. As Creasy succumbs to his gunshot wound, he drops the emblem of St. Jude that Pita gave him. An epilogue reveals that Sanchez was killed by Manzano during a police raid that same day.

Directed by: Tony Scott
Starring: Denzel Washington (Creasy), Dakota Fanning (Pita), Radha Mitchell (Lisa), Christopher Walken (Rayburn), Marc Anthony (Samuel), Giancarlo Giannini (Manzano)
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Country: USA, Mexico
Year: 2004
Score: 77 %
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