Man on Fire

Man on Fire Information

Man on Fire is a 2004 American thriller film, and the second adaptation of A. J. Quinnell's 1980 novel of the same name; the first film based on the novel was released in 1987. The 2004 film adaptation was directed by Tony Scott, from a screenplay written by Brian Helgeland.

Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a despondent former CIA operative/Force Recon Marine officer turned bodyguard, who goes on a revenge rampage after his charge, nine-year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning), is abducted in Mexico. The supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin and Mickey Rourke.


Because of the extremely high rate of kidnappings in Mexico City for ransom money, businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) hires former U.S. Special Operations Marine officer John Creasy (Denzel Washington) to guard his nine-year-old daughter "Pita" (Dakota Fanning). At first Creasy distances himself socially from Pita, but the two soon develop a friendship.

After a piano lesson, Pita is abducted in public; Creasy kills four of the kidnappers, but he is shot multiple times and collapses. The Ramoses agree to deliver a dead drop ransom of US$10 million per the instructions of "The Voice" (Roberto Sosa), the mastermind of the kidnapping ring. Samuel's attorney, Jordan Kalfus (Mickey Rourke), arranges for the ransom money to be collected from Samuel's kidnapping insurance policy, then arranges for it to be delivered to the kidnappers. The drop, however, is ambushed by members of a different Mexican crime syndicate, including corrupt police, and the money is stolen, resulting in The Voice notifying the Ramoses that Pita will be killed.

Creasy leaves the hospital before fully recovering from his wounds and vows to Pita's mother Lisa (Radha Mitchell) that he will kill everyone involved in Pita's abduction. His friend and former CIA colleague, Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken), who runs a security firm in Mexico, helps him get weapons. With the help of Mariana Guerrero (Rachel Ticotin), a journalist, and Miguel Manzano (Giancarlo Giannini) of the Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI), Creasy begins hunting down and killing those involved in Pita's abduction. Each person traced leads Creasy him to the next by providing vital information, once they have provided this information to Creasy, the majority are killed. The corrupt policeman who stole the money from the ransom drop reveals that the bags only contained $2.5 million.

Samuel confesses to Creasy that he agreed to Kalfus' plan for Pita's kidnapping to pay off business debts. He planned to keep $5 million for himself, pay Kalfus $2.5 million and the kidnappers would receive $2.5 million for the staged kidnapping. He also confesses that when Pita was not returned, he killed Kalfus. Samuel then commits suicide with Creasy's pistol, which Creasy had earlier tried to commit suicide with.

After some digging, Mariana writes an article revealing The Voice's identity as Daniel Sánchez. Creasy shows up to Daniel's ex-wife's house and is shot by his brother Aurelio (Gero Camilo), who then tries unsuccessfully to escape. Creasy calls Daniel, who reveals that Pita is still alive and offers to free her if Creasy surrenders himself with Aurelio. Creasy agrees and he and Lisa meet at the exchange site where the kidnappers release Pita as Creasy releases Aurelio. Creasy then surrenders himself and is driven away by the kidnappers, presumably to be tortured and killed. En route, however, he dies as a result of his gunshot injury and appears to be at peace. Daniel Sánchez is killed by Miguel Manzano during an AFI raid later that same day.


  • Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy
  • Dakota Fanning as Lupita Martin Ramos, "Pita"
  • Marc Anthony as Samuel Ramos
  • Radha Mitchell as Lisa Martin Ramos
  • Christopher Walken as Paul Rayburn, an old friend of Creasy from the CIA, who runs a security firm in Mexico
  • Giancarlo Giannini as Miguel Manzano, director of the AFI
  • Rachel Ticotin as Mariana Garcia Guerrero, a reporter for the Diario Reforma
  • Jesús Ochoa as Victor Fuentes
  • Mickey Rourke as Jordan Kalfus, Samuel Ramos' lawyer
  • Angelina Peláez as Sister Anna
  • Roberto Sosa as Daniel Sanchez, "The Voice"
  • Gero Camilo as Aurelio Sanchez
  • Mario Zaragoza as Jorge Ramirez


Tony Scott, the director, tried to have a version of the film made in 1983, but since the film would have been his second after The Hunger, Paul Davies, a journal article author, theorized that movie producers would have believed that Scott lacked the experience to direct the film. At the time Italy was still a major center of kidnapping in the world. Scott said that Arnon Milchan, the producer of the 1987 film, asked Scott if he was still interested in producing a version of Man on Fire, as Milchan still owned the rights to the series.

20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy. An early draft of the film script was set in Naples. Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy. Mexico City became the setting of the 2004 film because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate, and due to other reasons. As a result, the character Rika Balletto was renamed to Lisa Martin Ramos, and Pinta Balletto was renamed to Lupita "Pita" Ramos. Ettore Balletto became Samuel Ramos. Robert De Niro was originally offered the role of Creasy.


The film grossed $77,911,774 in North America and $52,381,940 in other territories, totaling $130,293,714 worldwide. According to Rotten Tomatoes 38% of reviews (from 158 samples) from critics were positive. It is rated as "Mixed or average reviews" on Metacritic with a metascore of 47 out of 100 on metacritic, based on 36 reviews. Paul Davies, a journal article author, said that the critical reception to Man on Fire in the United States was "somewhat less than kind" because critics did not like the vigilantism that Creasy uses. Davies argues that "most critics missed" Creasy not taking "sadistic pleasure" in the killings since he kills to get information to get to all of the people involved in the kidnapping of Pita Ramos, and does not like harming innocent parties.

A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book's lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters "like to leave their mark on the product." Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers "did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl" and "When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful."

This film was adapted by Indian director Apoorva Lakhia for his 2005 film Ek Ajnabee.

See also

  • Man on Fire (1987 film)
  • Vigilante film
  • Ek Ajnabee
  • Aanai
  • 2004 in film
  • Cinema of the United States
  • List of American films of 2004

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