I saw the Punisher not long ago and for the most part enjoyed the experience. I went in to the movie with full knowledge of the more juicier tidbits of Frank Castles origin and where the movie was supposed to be going.
Little did I know that the real Punisher was 2 weeks away.
In simplest terms the plot of Man on Fire is the story of how a drunken former commando (Denzel) gets a job as a bodyguard for a little girl. What follows is an intricate tale of abductions, conspiracy, duplicity and revenge.
The first half hour of the film is almost entirely exposition but it is handled in such a way as to allow the viewer to absorb the information at the same time as the actual story is unfolding. Denzel’s character, Creasy, is a drunk. This fact is reinforced consistently throughout the opening scenes. We are shown images of a man who has done things that he can not escape; Things for which he believes there is no penance. The situation comes to a head one night when Creasy simply gives up, puts a gun to his temple and pulls the trigger. Over the next few minutes we hear explanations of what failure to fire is and the prophetic theme of “A Bullet Never Lies”. Creasy sees the evening’s events as a sign. He is meant to be where he is. He is meant to protect this little girl.
Needless to say when she is subsequently kidnapped and murdered he becomes upset. The scenes following this point in the story are what Punisher could have and should have been. His actions are justified, if not specifically just. The viewer is left to simply watch in awe as he carves a path through those people responsible. Watching the next hour of the movie you truly feel what he is feeling. You know he can and will do whatever it takes to see his task completed.
Technically speaking the movie is a bit heavy-handed at times in its cinematography but only to a minor degree. I did like the almost over-use of subtitles/text on screen to reinforce specific details. I believe the point was to tie the on-screen text to Pita’s (the little girl) notebook, which Creasy commandeers and becomes a recurring item in the story.
Overall I can’t say any of the negatives even approach the caliber of the positive aspects. The chemistry between ten year-old Dakota Fanning and Denzel is worth the price of admission alone. Worth noting as well, I don’t work for any of the above-mentioned parties. Even though with this much metaphorical wang in my metaphorical mouth it’s hard to tell.
Still, this is easily the best summer popcorn movie I’ve seen thus far.