Death takes a Mexican holiday in "Man on fire" | VailDaily.com
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Death takes a Mexican holiday in "Man on fire"

Nickey Hernandez

In the ransom-action flick “Man on Fire,” Denzel Washington goes Conquistador on Mexico City’s ass.Like Shaft, John Creasy (Washington) is a complicated man and a bad mother. He’s spilled blood and guts for Uncle Sam in Thailand and Pakistan during a prior life as a counter-terrorist killer. But as the film opens, Creasy is a drunken loser, seeking to shed his murderous past and head Mexico’s way to serve as babysitter, best friend and bodyguard to a pixie.The little angel, Pita, is the daughter of a sexy Texan and a millionaire Mexican dude. As such, the JonBenet Ramsey look-a-like is marked for snatching by a gang of kidnappers that prey on Mexico’s upper class.Like most men of action, Creasy isn’t much of a talker unless the conversation is with Jack Daniels: A beverage he goes through like Frank Sinatra on a tear across the Vegas Strip.Still the little girl softens Creasy’s stone heart by constantly pesteringhim about his past. The precocious child is so sweet and innocent that Creasy actually thinks there is more to life than cirrosis of the liver.Their little friendship drones on and on and takes up half the film. But the drawn out tenderness between bodyguard and child sets up a rousing second half, which kicks in when kidnappers fill Creasy with lead and grab his little buddy.When it comes to revenge, Montezuma’s got nothing on Creasy, who mounts up and kills more Aztecs than Cortez.”I’m going to do what I am best at,” Creasy tells the girl’s distraught parents. “I’ll kill them.”Proving that there is nothing an armed and angry American can’t do, Creasy needs only days to crack the kidnapping ring, uncover a brotherhood of corrupt Mexican cops and locate the crime syndicate kingpin.If the Marines turned Creasy loose in Iraq, we’d have the mutilated body of Muqtada al-Sadr hanging from the Brooklyn Bridge by Friday prayer time in Fallujah.Though “Man on Fire,” is no more than average, this story of revenge and honor gets points for letting Creasy do his thing with fairly conventional weapons.”A man can be an artist at anything,” Creasy’s army pal tells the kidnapped girl’s family. “His art is death and he’s about to paint his masterpiece.”The masterpiece violates every tenent of the Geneva Convention. Still, one can’t argue with Creasy’s results. Who cares if the job requires cutting off fingers or packing explosives up a bad guy’s rectum?When a weak-willed bystander tells Creasy that justice should be between the evildoers and God, the ex-Special-Ops assassin replies, “My job is to arrange a meeting,” right before he fires a rocket-propelled grenade into a kidnapper’s SUV.Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who exchanges witty commentary with Jose Cuervo every night.


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