A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has extreme and graphic violence, including torture and attempted and actual suicide (portrayed as honorable). Children are in peril. A character has a drinking problem. Characters use strong language. The movie's strengths include strong inter-racial friendships and respect for spiritual values.
What's the story?
Denzel Washington plays Creasy, a burnt-out hired gun. Creasy takes on a new job as bodyguard for a Pita (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of a rich man. Although he insists he is not there to be her friend and does not want to talk to her, he is soon coaching her for the big swim meet and she is naming her bear after him. When Pita is kidnapped, Creasy vows to do whatever necessary to track her kidnappers down.
Is it any good?
Two of today's most talented and charismatic screen performers are lost in an over-big, over-loud, over-heated, over-long, over-everything mess of a story about revenge. The dialogue is clunky and pretentious. MAN ON FIRE is not willing to assume that viewers can figure anything out for themselves and pounds every point several times. A character says that Pita showed Creasy "it was all right to live again," and another responds, "And the kidnappers took that away." The violence is excessive, with too many bad guys and too many drawn-out scenes of torture, especially one elaborate set-up involving a bomb inserted into a man's body.
For a guy who is supposed to be a superstar of killing, Creasy seems rather careless about things like evidence and innocent bystanders. Even with all of the explosions and shootouts, the movie feels bloated and much too long at nearly two and a half hours. Director Tony Scott throws in a lot of tiresomely faddish tricked-up shots, using the subtitles as a part of the frame and putting a countdown to a time bomb in the corner of the screen. Reportedly, he shot three different endings for this movie. The other two have to be better than the one they decided to use, which takes a faltering script into the land of "I sat through all of this for that?"
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issues of honor and redemption this movie raises, especially the portrayal of suicide as an honorable response to disgrace or as a heroic sacrifice. Why is it important that people in the movie keep talking about how they are professionals? And that the most important thing in life is family?
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