Man on Fire

dir. Scott

Opens Fri April 23

Various Theaters

If you're rich in Mexico City, you're not safe. In director Tony Scott's new film Man on Fire, he tells you as much in the opening moments. "A kidnapping occurs every 60 seconds in Latin America," the placard reads. Things are especially bad if you're a struggling rich person in debt, as is the case with Samuel (Marc Anthony) who has a very kidnappable daughter, Pita. For Samuel, the best protection he can afford is a retired military specialist named Creasy (Denzel Washington), who, as an added bonus, is a severely depressed drunk.

While Creasy sees the gig as a quick way to make money before drifting away, none can resist the charms of little Pita (Dakota Fanning). His battle-hardened shell is cracked, a lonely girl finds a friend, and then comes the inevitable; Pita is kidnapped, and Creasy is left for dead.

So. If you're an ex-army assassin, whose last friend has probably been ruthlessly murdered, what do you do? Obviously, kill every last motherfucker responsible.

Now, I've nothing against revenge tragedies. However, director Tony Scott (Enemy of the State, Top Gun) is a worthless washed-up hack that should've been kicked out of Hollywood years ago. A retarded lobotomized monkey couldn't ruin a movie with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning--and yet somehow? Tony Scott has managed to rise to the task.

We've seen the "tough guy gets emotionally attached to the helpless child" scenario a billion times, and for a while, the Denzel/Dakota pairing keeps things fresh. But after the kidnapping? Scott turns a heartfelt story into a ridiculous rip-off of Charles Bronson's Death Wish, complete with snappy wisecracks and unnecessarily violent deaths. This kind of stuff turns my stomach, which kept turning for the film's two-and-a-half hour running time. And Scott's trademark shaky camera and strobe light editing didn't help one...little...bit.

Hopefully poor little Dakota will one day forget she was in such a shitpile of a movie--but what of those who paid good money to see it? Who do we turn to for vengeance?