Man on Fire is a remake of a movie with the same title made in 1987 that featured Scott Glenn in the Creasy role. And while story wise it is very similar the two couldn't be more different.
Denzel Washington's Creasy is far more broken and cynical than Scott Glenn's Creasy. He is only an inch away of losing it and giving up entirely. Even realizing that he probably should stop drinking he carries on and is not even afraid to admit to his employer that he is an alcoholic. He basically doesn't care that much and he is not sure himself what keeps him afloat. Until he meets Pita (played by Dakota Fanning). At first he is doing his best to distance himself from her but gradually he warms up to her infinite charm and innocence. The two bond and Creasy finally sees he has a right to live again (like Christopher Walken's character mentions in a dialogue with Miguel Manzano). A lot of time is taken to show us how Creasy and Pita connect which is of grave importance. But it has to be said that the acting on both parts is phenomenal since you actually believe they are the best of friends. It is far more convincing than the friendship between Samantha and Creasy in the original Man on Fire due to poor acting on part of Jade Malle. To be fair the direction failed to bring out the best of the actors so it's not entirely her fault. Anyway, it is therefore incredibly devastating and painful when Pita gets kidnapped. Right from that moment you can feel the anguish and determination of Creasy to make everything right. How does he achieve this? By doing what he does best. The art of death. In literally every scene that follows you can sense the anger that has gotten hold of Creasy. It's his professionalism that keeps him from losing control although he allows his darker nature to take a bite out of all the people who have wronged the little girl he loves so much. To quote Rayburn (Christopher Walken): " He'll deliver more justice in a weekend than ten years of your courts and tribunals."
From start to finish this film is interesting. While it is a relatively long film it never felt like it was. Man on Fire oozes with style that somehow seems very fitting in this film. Maybe there were a few moments where I thought Tony Scott was using it a little too much. But then I realized that I was missing the flash in the original Man on Fire. The lack of pointed out that it does add something to scenes if done correctly. And Tony Scott in that regard was an absolute master. This film was also quite an emotional ride. There were many scenes that struck a cord with me and I very gladly embraced it. Despite the darkness and violence this film is incredibly endearing and beautiful. Add to that the always compelling Christopher Walken and you have an almost perfect movie. Is this a classic? I would have to watch it several times yet to know for sure if it remains strong after multiple viewings but it's looking very good. (You have many memorable scenes, memorable characters and many memorable lines.)