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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Denzel Washington, Marc Anthony, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini
DIRECTOR
Tony Scott
SCREENPLAY
Brian Helgeland
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
148 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox
 "Man on Fire" Review 
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Director Tony Scott shoulders almost all the blame for this not being a solid action film. This Denzel Washington film has the cast in place...a fairly predictable, but tension-filled script...yet, almost single-handedly Scott ruins this film with the most remarkably inept cinematography I have seen in quite some time.

Scott takes what could have been a powerful, human drama and tries to give it some razzle dazzle camera work...in the process, he kills the tension, ruins good performances and creates more distraction than attraction. It's so incredibly disappointing.

If not for the performances of Denzel Washington, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini and a surprisingly strong Dakota Fanning this film would have sunk into oblivion. Instead, it manages to surface as an almost entertaining, but mostly frustrating film.

In a supporting role, Marc Anthony does a pretty decent job...but, I was halfway through the film wishing I was seeing any number of other Hispanic actors who could have added depth to the role. Additionally, Christopher Walken is surprisingly weak in a throwaway supporting role and Mickey Rourke is competent but adds little to the action.

Fanning is the true delight here, and she's in the film far too little. I'd never have guessed this smiling, perky little actress could pull off such a dramatic turn. Excellent job.

This film has sort of a "John Q" logic to it...in that a "wronged" man becomes vigilante to make things right and hurts, even tortures, people along the way. Washington can play these characters, but I can't say I found a lot unique about the performance.

This is a merely average film that had much more potential. It's ruined by director Tony Scott's overambitious and way out of focus camerawork...This "Man on Fire" should just go up in smoke. ©

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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