Man on Fire

 
(i)

 

Extremely violent; not for kids.
  • Review Date: September 14, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 146 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Extreme and graphic violence including torture. Children are in peril.

Sex

Sexual references and mild sexual situation.

Language

Some very strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Character abuses alcohol.

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?

QUALITY
 

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?"

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 22, 2004
DVD release date:September 13, 2004
Cast:Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning, Denzel Washington
Director:Tony Scott
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:146 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and strong violence

This review of Man on Fire was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Excellent Civil War movie has graphic violence, profanity.
  • Moving but unrealistic film has mature themes, profanity.
  • Excellent account of FBI's youngest Most Wanted.
  • Exciting Tom Cruise classic has some intense scenes.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 9 and 14 year old Written bywinnielake January 8, 2011
 
Man on Fire was a very good movie although I would not recommend it as one to watch with your younger kids.It was based on true events which happened in the seventies in Italy.Names were changed and the locations also but it does give one much to think about.
Adult Written byQ81 August 18, 2011
 

Don't miss the forest because of the trees.

This is another movie that I am very disappointed in how CSM rated it. There is little question that they are right that it is NOT for kids, however, it is a very good movie about love and a call for justice. Granted the methods that the main character uses to display that love in seeking justice are questionable, but sometimes justice comes in ugly packages. The movie is based upon the business of kidnapping in Mexico. It is a horrible business that is paid up with the right people, and as a result justice is nowhere to be found. At the very least the movie accomplishes at least one honorable thing in it's graphic portrayal, it brings attention to the real life injustice that exists. (SPOILER ALERT) (Furthermore, the movie has a lot to say about self sacrifice. The Bible itself says that greater love has no man but this, that a man lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Which is exactly what the main character ultimately does.) Many people will say that revenge is a big part of what this movie displays, and I can concede that there are elements of it there, but don 't forget the elements of justice and more importantly love which I think are the true messages of Man On Fire.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old July 17, 2010
 

An ugly movie about child abuse.

Don't watch. Its alright acting but the characters are just ugly, and evil. They torture a little girl. By the end of the movie I was sobbing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass