RT Podcast

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... Man on Fire (with Special Guest Jay Ellis)

The star of HBO's Insecure is out for vengeance against the critics who felt this Denzel Washington thriller fizzled more than it sizzled.

by | December 16, 2021 | Comments

Poster image for Man on Fire

(Photo by ©20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

The late Tony Scott worked with Denzel Washington five times over the course of his nearly three-decade Hollywood career, forging a relationship with the powerhouse actor that began with 1995’s Crimson Tide. The one collaboration that proved to be a miss for critics was Man on Fire, the 2004 action thriller based on a novel about John Creasy, an alcoholic former soldier and operative who takes a job as a bodyguard for a young girl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City and embarks on a tour of vengeance when she is kidnapped.

Listen Now: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher TuneIn | Google Podcasts | Radio Public | Deezer | iHeart | Art19

At 38% on the Tomatometer, the film ranks near the bottom of both Scott’s and Washington’s extensive filmographies, and it’s the worst-reviewed of the movies they did together. Critics largely agreed on Washington’s uncanny ability to fill up the screen with his brooding charisma, but many of them also pointed to what they felt was the film’s bloated runtime and excessive, unnecessarily brutal violence.

But there remains a contingent of fans who were fully on board with John Creasy’s particular brand of vigilante justice. The movie’s title is Man on Fire, after all; you sort of know what you’re in for when you sit down to watch it, and “Denzel Washington takes out a bunch of bad guys” was essentially the selling point. In fact, Man on Fire’s 89% Audience Score is the highest of the five movies Scott and Washington made together — even higher than Certitifed Fresh winners like Crimson Tide (83%) and Unstoppable (72%).

So what did audiences see that critics missed? Or, more to the point, what were audiences able to stomach that critics weren’t? Our very special guest this week has some thoughts on the topic. Jay Ellis is just about to wrap up the fifth and final season of HBO’s hit comedy Insecure, on which he plays the longtime boyfriend of star Issa Rae’s character. However, Ellis also happens to have a Tony Scott-related project on the horizon, as he’s set to appear in next year’s Top Gun: Maverick alongside Tom Cruise.

Ellis joins RT’s own Mark Ellis (no relation… they think) and guest co-host Sharronda Williams of Pay or Wait (Jacqueline is away covering awards season developments) to chat about why this critically maligned film is so beloved by the fan community. While Sharronda admits a recent rewatch of the film revealed a few problematic moments, she still loves it, and Jay recounts the first time he saw Man on Fire as a college kid in Oregon. Then, of course, they dive into the final season of Insecure and the other projects Ellis has coming up.

Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”

Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:

If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.

Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Spike Martial Arts CBS South by Southwest Film Festival kong Premiere Dates binge LGBT thriller Country prank Toys A24 serial killer chucky BBC America independent Adult Swim facebook richard e. Grant History Fox Searchlight streamig Wes Anderson cancelled TV shows french comic book movie Awards ratings TCA Sundance TV YouTube Premium video YouTube Red Bravo black comedy TruTV Biopics posters Star Wars NBA 99% dreamworks Superheroe all-time OWN spain unscripted Ovation ITV Drama obi wan talk show concert Photos MCU south america TBS BBC BBC One political drama Sony Pictures lord of the rings SundanceTV 90s Oscars GIFs spanish scary women rt labs hidden camera latino batman Rock war historical drama AMC Plus superhero LGBTQ Academy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt saw Netflix Sneak Peek crime thriller halloween tv documentary Lionsgate wonder woman pirates of the caribbean Comics on TV canceled slasher witnail Comedy cars Trailer El Rey Spring TV Paramount Plus Lifetime Fargo Avengers mcc The Academy anthology Christmas PaleyFest See It Skip It TCA Awards dogs Acorn TV television HBO Max Pirates rotten movies we love 2016 DirecTV jurassic park ESPN Best Picture sequel supernatural Starz TCM Summer Emmy Nominations james bond Trophy Talk game of thrones The Witch YouTube Tumblr animated Tubi Rom-Com razzies Turner Travel Channel Lucasfilm 4/20 hispanic Brie Larson Rocketman Instagram Live stop motion 2020 finale cancelled television mutant Winners USA Warner Bros. deadpool TLC Countdown name the review stand-up comedy festival cats 79th Golden Globes Awards Comedy Central robots Freeform Election teaser TV boxoffice award winner critics series children's TV BET Awards olympics Amazon breaking bad spinoff Kids & Family Amazon Studios Tags: Comedy foreign Marvel Television target The CW HBO Go biopic Holidays Netflix Christmas movies golden globes TV One 73rd Emmy Awards theme song Best and Worst Mary Poppins Returns royal family TV renewals First Reviews transformers nfl toronto a nightmare on elm street best dc golden globe awards black social media news E3 miniseries National Geographic Funimation spanish language Columbia Pictures adventure Holiday indie Reality 93rd Oscars VOD Paramount Pictures zombies monster movies toy story emmy awards movie cops Tomatazos rt archives TNT Mystery Lifetime Christmas movies Classic Film Food Network comic books Captain marvel Shondaland Image Comics Endgame Action king kong 20th Century Fox Dark Horse Comics period drama Heroines Sci-Fi IFC Films Pixar Legendary comics Britbox Red Carpet movies adaptation Trivia X-Men mission: impossible SXSW 2022 Comic-Con@Home 2021 screen actors guild diversity summer TV preview slashers suspense Film IFC free movies YA directors justice league 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards vampires Elton John anime Television Academy aapi Year in Review AMC marvel comics comic telelvision Awards Tour art house Pet Sematary 007 kids The Arrangement Extras Spectrum Originals scorecard TV Land international TCA 2017 cooking New York Comic Con know your critic Paramount Super Bowl CBS All Access disaster Apple TV Plus Anna Paquin HFPA 2017 Song of Ice and Fire universal monsters boxing Music Discovery Channel trailers strong female leads RT21 Star Trek Writers Guild of America docudrama child's play VH1 singing competition football Crackle GoT Sundance Now cartoon 21st Century Fox DC streaming service satire australia streaming movies 2018 kaiju reviews video on demand travel book NBC comedies Pride Month Disney 1990s Black History Month Syfy new star wars movies fresh MGM FX on Hulu Quiz heist movie Polls and Games cancelled Nat Geo Horror films summer preview 2021 king arthur laika hist game show obituary franchise Opinion nature japan Animation blockbusters APB Musical Masterpiece popular MTV rotten Chernobyl Cosplay Hear Us Out Tokyo Olympics Winter TV Apple TV+ Oscar Podcast The Walt Disney Company ghosts summer TV SXSW FOX Focus Features crossover renewed TV shows japanese Disney+ Disney Plus Sundance adenture Binge Guide Thanksgiving Watching Series live event Epix revenge Showtime Universal tv talk Turner Classic Movies discovery leaderboard DC Universe Set visit screenings Nickelodeon technology Cannes police drama Television Critics Association San Diego Comic-Con what to watch Cartoon Network blaxploitation Marvel Studios archives aliens Fox News 71st Emmy Awards Creative Arts Emmys cancelled TV series psycho Arrowverse trophy twilight sequels Nominations Ghostbusters doctor who dceu 2015 Best Actress Teen Alien WGN Ellie Kemper ViacomCBS BET Film Festival 94th Oscars sitcom Superheroes Schedule romance IMDb TV Character Guide Interview Hallmark stoner mockumentary Amazon Prime Video CMT Rocky CNN CW Seed basketball romantic comedy Exclusive Video Marathons psychological thriller asian-american Crunchyroll ABC Family dramedy parents Prime Video godzilla sag awards Grammys composers elevated horror young adult christmas movies werewolf Broadway fast and furious venice The Walking Dead based on movie crime marvel cinematic universe remakes Pacific Islander USA Network streaming feel good debate reboot high school RT History superman Paramount Network zombie harry potter dragons mob dark hollywood Apple Infographic FXX crime drama blockbuster SDCC GLAAD DGA worst hispanic heritage month TIFF Calendar Fantasy jamie lee curtis Disney Channel comic book movies scary movies Video Games VICE Amazon Prime Stephen King genre WarnerMedia ABC Comic Book sopranos classics vs. legend Shudder Neflix Pop TV cinemax Hulu quibi Reality Competition gangster Baby Yoda Musicals ABC Signature Best Actor Universal Pictures First Look indiana jones Valentine's Day die hard DC Comics PBS The Purge Certified Fresh docuseries Walt Disney Pictures Logo scene in color Mudbound biography Hollywood Foreign Press Association space PlayStation zero dark thirty documentaries Hallmark Christmas movies E! Pop 45 Best Director American Society of Cinematographers Marvel italian Women's History Month BAFTA Disney streaming service new york President halloween Family TCA Winter 2020 worst movies new zealand medical drama canceled TV shows Fall TV TV movies rt labs critics edition comiccon sports critic resources natural history Tarantino Chilling Adventures of Sabrina book adaptation casting NYCC Black Mirror ID politics Mindy Kaling Western live action action-comedy cults Peacock OneApp joker HBO green book A&E dexter Disney Plus nbcuniversal festivals Vudu 2019 true crime Esquire science fiction Mary poppins rom-coms spider-man FX Emmys spider-verse 24 frames criterion Mary Tyler Moore Box Office MSNBC versus 72 Emmy Awards spy thriller