(based on the novel by A. J. Quinnell):
Tony Scott tried his hand at the trendy
"CSI"-style of grainy images, erratic editing, and excessive use of
slow-mo, and if it worked more for effect than as a distraction back
when Man on Fire was released in 2004, it certainly doesn't
now. What begins as small droplets of woozy camerawork and flashy
cuts eventually turns into a full-out epilepsy attack by the final
third of the movie. The picture should be taught in film classes as
an example of how to overuse stylistic effects. And combined with
Scott's predilection for milking narrative clichés, such as Denzel's
alcohol problem, or how Dakota Fanning's loving character transforms
him from an apathetic drunk into a loving teddy bear, or how he
helps her become a swimming champion, this nullifies what could and
should have been a rather engaging crime story based on A. J.
Quinnell's novel and adapted here by Brian Helgeland (L.A.
Mystic River). Some movies
stand the test of time impeccably, others quite well, but this one
has been completely obliterated by less than twenty years of aging.
Quinnell's novel was also adapted in
directed by French filmmaker Élie Chouraqui and starring Scott Glenn
as John W. Creasy.