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Movies & TV

16th Dec 2023

One of Denzel Washington’s most underrated movies is on Netflix

Stephen Porzio

denzel washington

Shockingly, the movie received poor reviews upon release. However, it’s now considered a classic.

Named the greatest actor of the 21st century by The New York Times in 2020, Denzel Washington has had an incredible career.

Yet, he has had a couple of movies that went underappreciated upon release before developing cult followings years later.

We have highlighted his 1998 effort – and only supernatural film to date – Fallen before, but another that falls into this camp is 2004’s Man on Fire.

Directed by Washington’s frequent collaborator Tony Scott and based on the novel of the same name, the actor stars as John Creasy – a former CIA man struggling with alcoholism, burnout and guilt over his actions while with the agency.

With the help of his longtime friend (Christopher Walken), he gets a job as a bodyguard for a young girl named Pita (Dakota Fanning), whose father runs a big business in Mexico City.

Creasy finds a newfound purpose in life looking after Pita. However, when the child is kidnapped, her protector uses his CIA skills to launch a one-man war against the people responsible.

One of Denzel Washington’s most underrated movies is on Netflix

Surprisingly, Man on Fire still holds a lowly 39% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with common sources of complaint at the time of its release from critics including its grim tone, its violent content and its 146 minute length.

However, in recent years, the movie has attracted a legion of devoted fans who love many aspects of the film, such as Creasy and Pita’s friendship, the quotable dialogue, Scott’s hyperkinetic visual style that places the viewer inside its hero’s tortured psyche and the themes of redemption.

In fact, Man on Fire has grown so much in esteem that Netflix recently announced plans to adapt the original novel for TV.

Until then though, the 2004 version with Washington is available to view on the streaming service (as well as on Disney+ and Prime Video) in Ireland and the UK.

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