inside the man

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Man on Fire

I took in the latest Tony Scott offering last night and was treated 146 minutes of revenge served cold. Well, OK, maybe it was more like 60 minutes of syrupy alcoholism recovery and child-bodyguard bonding followed by 86 minutes of revenge served cold. The most memorable aspects of the film were the forced audience-character bonding through repeated use of extreme eye, nose, and mouth close ups, and the continuously unsteady camera work.

I now know a great deal about Denzel's pores. I now have a deep relationship with Dakota's dentation after repeated explorations of her engaging toothy smile. I now have more data on the mole on Radha's nose than the Opportunity rover gathered on the rock named Bounce. And I now have Marc Anthony's "Marc, I want you to show me regret mixed with greed mixed with guilt mixed with desperation... that's it!" look, complete with head tilted down, brow furrowed, lips pouty, burned into my mind.

As for the cinematography, Scott must have really liked Soderbergh's Traffic. Scott's cinematic portrait of Mexico has the same unsettling camera-never-at-rest, this place is dynamic, unsafe, and rife with crime message that Soderburgh so effectively communicated in his 2000 film. The only thing that Scott lacked from Soderburgh's method was the sepia tones. In fact, now that I think of it, these two films will probably do more harm to the Mexican tourist industry than the Zapatista uprising. The cheesy thank you message to Mexico City "a special place" that closes the film does nothing to dispell this impression.

In the end, through little employment of subtlety, Scott generally succeeds at the key challenge in making a good revenge flick, making the the audience sympathetic to all of the atrocities that the hero will inevitably commit. Only in retrospect do I feel pangs of guilt for cheering on Denzel's determined campaign of torture and murder that occupies the majority of this film.

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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