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Film / Man on Fire

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Lisa Ramos: What are you gonna do?
John Creasey: What I do best. I'm gonna kill 'em. Anyone that was involved. Anybody who profited from it. Anybody who opens their eyes at me.
Lisa Ramos: You kill them ALL.

Man on Fire is a 2004 film directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington. It is based on A.J. Quinnel's 1980 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted into film in 1987 (starring Scott Glenn).

In Mexico City, criminal gangs have been kidnapping rich people and their families for the ransom money. On the advice of his lawyer, Mexican businessman Samuel Ramos, like other wealthy people, hires a bodyguard to protect his nine-year-old daughter Lupita "Pita" Ramos (Dakota Fanning), and to be able to renew the family's ransom insurance. The head of an executive security firm, Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken) suggests that Ramos hire Rayburn's old CIA buddy John Creasy (Denzel Washington).

However, Creasy has since become uninterested in life. He is burned out from all the death and horror and has taken to alcoholism to ease the burden. Creasy is not interested in bodyguard work and even less with the youngster, but he needs a job. Creasy's initial impatience slowly fades as he finds himself opening up to the child.

Then Lupita gets kidnapped.

Her ransom does not go as planned.

And everything goes to hell.

And then Creasy starts unleashing his own hell on the responsible ones.

If you came here to read about a the trope in which someone gets set on fire, that's elsewhere.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Lupita's dad, Samuel Ramos (Ettore Balletto in the novel) who arranged for his daughter to get kidnapped as part of an insurance scam. Justified in his mind since he thought there'd be no harm to Lupita, but still crosses the Moral Event Horizon. The only reason Creasy doesn't kill him is because Samuel clearly hates himself for what's happened and is and is fully willing to use the pistol Creasy leaves behind.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The 2004 adaptation shifts the plot from 1980s Italy to present-day Mexico complete with a Race Lift for almost all of the main cast.
  • All Part of the Show: Creasy interrogates and kills a number of kidnappers who are operating out of the back of a rave club, which comes in handy since the noise drowns out any screaming or gunshots. Creasy then rigs the place to blow and leads the crowd outside by firing a few rounds into the ceiling with his shotgun. They assume everything is part of some elaborate performance and are outright cheering when the club finally goes up in a giant fireball.
  • Asshole Victim: Basically everyone John Creasy goes after. Pretty much all of them are hardened criminals who have participated in or carried out horrific crimes, which might make one feel a bit more comfortable with Creasy brutally torturing them for information and then murdering them even after they give him what he wants.
  • Ass Shove: Creasy's trick with the C4.
  • Amoral Attorney: Jordan Kalfus, Samuel Ramos' lawyer, stole the ransom money before its delivery to the kidnappers. It was revealed that this was part of Samuel's plan to pay off his father's debts.
  • Anti-Hero: John Creasy.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Creasy and Sister Anna, the Headmistress of Pita's school.
  • The Atoner: Creasy arguably. Lampshaded when he asks "Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?".
  • Badass Boast:
    Creasy (interrupting an old lady telling him that the Bible tells people to forgive those who wronged them): Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Miguel Manzano, the only effective police officer willing to help Creasy, is basically a pervert. He's also the one who eventually kills the Big Bad in the epilogue.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Creasy starts out the film with a beard.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: One of the reasons why Creasy loves Pita. And the reason why he's angry when they hurt her.
    Rayburn: She showed him it was OK to live again.
    • And later on.
    Pita: I love you, Creasy. And you love me too, don't you?
    Creasy: Yes, I do. With all my heart, Pita. Go.
  • Big Bad: Daniel Rosas Sanchez, aka "The Voice", the leader of a feared, powerful kidnapping ring.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Lots. Paired off with those nifty, dynamic subs that fly in the direction of the person saying them. Justified since Creasy himself can speak Spanish and mostly deals with upper class and police who at least understand English.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lieutenant Victor Fuentes is established in the first ransom drop as an experienced negotiator with a fairly decent track record for returning hostages unharmed. Turns out he runs a secret fraternity of dirty cops, and he ambushes Pita's ransom drop out of greed.
    Mariana: He is better protected than The President of Mexico.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The movie: After Creasy hunts down and kills everyone who profited from Pita's kidnapping save for the Big Bad, he finds out that Pita is alive. Creasy knowingly trades his life for hers, and shares a moment with her before she is reunited with her mother. Creasy dies soon after, though so does the Big Bad responsible for Pita's kidnapping, as well as many others.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: We keep seeing flashback-like scenes of Creasy jumping into a pool, blood coming out of his wounds. He's doing so to sterilize his still-unhealed wounds. It's also to remind us that he's slowly bleeding to death.
  • Broken Ace: Creasy has extensive experience in military and CIA special operations; his resume even states that he helped train law enforcement and military units in the past. Despite his impressive credentials, he's a worn down alcoholic who has nothing to live for when the story begins.
  • Bungled Suicide: Creasy tries to commit suicide by pistol, but the bullet he used turns out to be defective. Subverted though, as Ramos was able to use the bullet to commit suicide.
  • Character Tics: Rayburn has a habit of thoroughly sucking his fingertips after eating.
  • Cheerful Child: Lupita's cheerfulness eventually chips away at Creasy's hard exterior, making him positive about life again and becoming something of a substitute father for her. This leads him to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when Pita is captured and killed by a kidnapping ring.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The bullet that stopped Creasy's suicide is later used by Ramos to commit suicide.
    • The stuffed bear that Pita owns. She named it "Creasy Bear", and it's hearing The Voice say that name when Creasy demands proof that Pita's alive that makes him realize he's not lying.
  • Cigarette Burns: Pita notices that Creasy has scars from cigarette burns on his hands, hinted to be a remnant from his past as a soldier, and asks them where he got them. He tells her she doesn't need to know and should treat him as an employee, not a friend.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: "I will take your family apart, piece by piece. Do you hear me? PIECE BY PIECE!"
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: The exact moment where everything goes to hell is the moment where a secret fraternity of Mexican Dirty Cops barges into the money exchange to try to steal the money, killing one of The Voice's family members in the process, and making him apparently decide to kill Pita in retaliation although the fact that he decides to keep her alive is not reassuring in any way. Creasy discovers later that Kalfus had stolen half of the ransom money while it was being prepared for transport, at behest of Samuel, who needed it to pay off debts inherited from his father, and thus the reason behind the entire conspiracy.
  • Combat Pragmatist: As an older man whose coordination and reaction time has been negatively impacted by alcoholism, Creasy doesn't have much of a choice. This is most evidenced by his one man assault on Fuentes' motorcade. He takes out the first escort by firing a rocket from a sniper's nest, descending to the street while Fuentes' mooks investigate the wreckage. He then destroys the second escort with a grenade. With the guards now panicked and confused, Creasy is able to effortlessly take them out and capture Fuentes.
  • Convenient Misfire: Creasy's pistol fails to fire when he tries to kill himself. He keeps the bullet and later gives it and his pistol to Ramos when he finds out about his involvement in Pita's kidnapping. The bullet doesn't misfire this time.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Although they never directly interact, Detective Manzano is fully aware that Creasy is carving a bloody path through the Mexican underworld and accomplishing more in a week than he could in a lifetime. After keeping tabs on Creasy's progress throughout the movie, Manzano personally takes care of the main villain after Creasy sacrifices himself to save Pita.
  • Cop Killer: Creasy kills 2 Judicial police officers, justified as they were corrupt, and were in on the kidnapping of Pita. He also kills another one later on after interrogating him. Since his gang's ambush on the deal for the ransom money caused Pita's supposed death.
  • Cowboy Cop: After having indirectily helped Creasy in his bloody revenge Manzano at the end kills Daniel "The Voice" Sanchez in pure vigilante style.
  • Da Chief: We get two: Lieutenant Inspector Victor Fuentes of the Kidnapping Division, and Commander Ramirez of the Judicial Police. Both of them are corrupt.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Creasy is heavily implied to have been not merely a soldier, but an "assassin" for the US government, and those years clearly took a heavy toll on him. He's deliberately evasive about his history, too, mainly because he doesn't like talking about it. Interestingly, Rayburn seems to have accepted that past by becoming numb to it, while Creasy is still tortured by it.
    Creasy: Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?
    Rayburn: No.
  • Death by Adaptation: Creasy, who officially "dies" in the book but is revealed to have faked his death, and gone on to have other adventures. In the movie, he dies for real.
  • Death Seeker: Creasy is a semi-Retired Badass at the start of the film, an alcoholic has-been who drunkenly attempts to kill himself only for the bullet to misfire. He eventually finds someone worth giving his life for in Pita.
  • Determinator: The reason the movie is named as such. It's so bad/good that Interpol doesn't even want to interfere with him.
  • Dirty Cop: The Mexico City police is full of them, with the exepction of Miguel Manzano, most notably La Hermandad. The kidnappers outright hire off-duty cops to assist in Pita's kidnapping.
  • Does She Have A Sister: Said by Creasy after being introduced to his friend Rayburn's wife. He's not serious though; Creasy is far too shell-shocked to settle down.
  • Driven to Suicide: Creasy tries to shoot himself in the head but the bullet doesn't work then. Also happens to Ramos once the consequences of his actions sink in. The bullet works on him.
  • Earn Your Bittersweet Ending:
    • The novel. Pinta Balletto, the novel's little girl character, was raped and killed, but Creasy made sure every one that profited from her tragic end paid for it. He regains some semblance of humanity and ends up with a love interest, too.
    • The movie has one too. Because of Creasy's slaughter of the entire organization, he is able to trade his life for Pita's and she is able to go home mentally scarred, but alive. But she has lost her friend and protector and her family has fallen apart. But Creasy is at least able to rest knowing that she is safe and the people who hurt her are dead.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Creasy is a former United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance officer and CIA Special Activities Division officer. Possibly a Subverted Trope as Creasy is a prime example on how years of combat can wear down a person's mind and soul.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Sanchez turns out to be a divorced man with a family he deeply cares about. He's shown with some of his children, while Creasy specifically gets him to release Pita by threatening to cut up his family and starts with his brother.
    • Samuel Ramos was actually the mind behind his own daughter's kidnapping in order to fraud the insurance but he genuine believed that nothing bad would have happened to her. After Pita is apparently killed after corrupt police officers led by Lt. Fuentes stole the ransom money and killed the kidnapper's nephew (who was making the pickup), Samuel blames Kalfus for this (as he had brought Fuentes into the plan) and kills him with a katana as an act of revenge.
  • Exact Words: When the exchange goes south, Sanchez says "God be with your child." He never specifically says Pita's dead. This becomes important later.
    • Creasy doesn't actually tell his interrogation targets he's going to let them live/go if they cooperate. He's already vowed to kill them to himself and Pita's mother. More than one is surprised by this.
  • Fingore:
    • The main character tortures a corrupt Mexican policeman by removing his fingers one by one and cauterizing the wound with a cigar lighter.
    • In the climax, he's talking on the phone with Daniel Sanchez, and holding Daniel's brother Aurelio hostage. When Daniel tries to buy him off, the protagonist holds the phone up Aurelio can talk and blows his fingers off with a shotgun.
  • Generation Xerox: Pita looks strikingly similar to her mother, Lisa.
  • Genki Girl: Lupita, and adorably so.
  • Get Out!: Pita's mother Lisa is absolutely, understandably, distraught and livid when negotiations to rescue the girl end poorly and is implied she had died. She demands everyone to get out of her house. Thankfully, Pita is revealed to be alive all along and is returned after Creasy sacrifices himself for her safety.
  • Good Policing, Evil Policing: Of the members of the Mexico City police that appear on screen, Detective Manzano is the only good cop who appears (and even then he's a Dirty Old Man, he is perfectly okay with letting John Creasy go on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge and he executes the Voice in a police raid in the film's epilogue) while all of the other cops are members of a secret Dirty Cop fellowship who have no problem endangering a kidnapped little girl to line up their pockets by ambushing a Ransom Drop. Unsurprisingly, the latter all become victims of Creasy's rampage.
  • The Hero Dies: Creasy dies at the end, but he accomplishes all his objectives by taking out almost all of the kidnapping organization and even saving Pita's life. His death is also a "screw you!" to the bad guys, since he dies before the Voice (the brains behind the operation) can get his hands on him. The Voice himself is killed by Detective Manzano on the same day.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Creasy starts out as a suicidal alcoholic until he gradually warms up to Pita, the little girl he's been hired to bodyguard. He decides to help her prepare for a swimming competition and sort of becomes a surrogate father to Pita, driving him to go on a rage-driven revenge quest after she's kidnapped and apparently killed.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Mariana Guerrero, a journalist who is attempting to expose La Hermandad and the kidnapping ring. Creasy even nicknames her "Lois" at one point.
  • It's Personal: Creasy is committed to taking out every member of the kidnapping ring because of Pita's death. Later in the film, Creasy takes head honcho Sanchez's brother and ex-wife hostage and blows off the brother's fingers. Sanchez begs to know how much money it will take to make him go away, but Creasy refuses, saying that he wants Sanchez himself. The wife even throws a bundle of cash at his feet while Creasy is shouting his demands, which he ignores.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
  • Just Following Orders: Attempted by Lieutenant Fuentes (being more specific, he says he's "just a professional" and that the apparent death of Lupita Ramos was just a snafu). To say that this pisses off John Creasy (who says he's heard this excuse from everybody else he's interrogated so far and is sick and tired of it), is a massive Understatement.
  • Laser Sight: Near the end, a red dot coming from one is seen on Creasy's hand as one of his enemies is aiming at him.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Creasy does this with a slight variation: the bullet in the gun is the one that misfired earlier when he tried to kill himself, and he explains that "a bullet always knows" if it should be fired, implying that if the target shouldn't die, he won't. This time, it works.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: Creasy apparently trained in jungle warfare with the French Foreign Legion, according to his resume.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: A variation. We see Creasy buy the guns alongside other pieces of equipment (like additional cell phones presumably for calling without being traced), most of which get used at some point afterwards in the movie. Set to Nine Inch Nails' "The Mark Has Been Made".
  • Mama Bear: Lisa Ramos is very protective of her daughter Lupita. When she believes that Pita is going to die after negotiations for her safety ends in disaster, Creasy tells her he's going to hunt down and kill everyone involved in her kidnapping; Lisa reaffirms for him to kill them and when she learns her husband was in on the kidnapping scheme, she outright states she'll kill him herself if Creasy doesn't. If she were an Action Mom, she'd probably be in the thick of it getting her hands dirty with Creasy. Luckily, they learn she is still alive and, thanks to Creasy trading his life, Pita is returned safely.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: Subverted. Pita's Dad stages the kidnapping to extract the kidnap money from the insurance company to make up for his own father's massive debts. The kicker is that his lawyer, the cops, and the racketeers are all either in cahoots with or backstabbing each other for the money (the man was convinced that Pita would be kept safe—only him (and, ironically, The Voice (but only out of professionalism)) actually give a shit about her welfare or survival). When it all goes wrong, the bodyguard deals with the scam by killing basically everyone.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: None of Creasy's kills are women —there is a female Guardian, but she tells him everything straight away and even offers him the girl. It's the wrong girl, but he simply hands the woman over to the cops when they come to pick up the kidnapped girl.
  • Montages: Many and varied, some with FlashbackEffects and some without them. Examples include the opening, Creasy thinking about and attempting suicide, swimming scenes, the kidnapping, and much more.
  • Motifs: Swimming pools appear throughout the film: some conversation near the beginning takes place around one, Pita participates in swimming contests and practices for them, and Creasy swims in one to sterilize his wounds.
  • Multiple Endings: In the original ending Creasy ends up dying from previously-sustainted wounds while being driven to the main villain Sanchez after agreeing to trade himself in for Pita, with a coda showing that the Mexican detective who was following his progress ended up shooting Sanchez during the arrest. An alternate ending had been shot where Creasy, though still mortally wounded, lives long enough to meet Sanchez face to face and exchange a few words before Creasy uses a bomb to kill them both.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: John Creasy does this several times in the movie to people involved in the kidnapping ring.
    • He tapes a guy's hands to the steering wheel. He cuts off the man's fingers one by one, slowly, and then cauterizes the wound with the car's cigarette lighter immediately. Then he gives the guy a smoke and pushes the car off a cliff (though at that point the guy was just glad it was over).
    • He blows off a man's fingers with a shotgun.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Creasy enters a nice elderly couple's apartment to attack a motorcade from above with a RPG launcher. That particular kind of RPG has a (relatively) small backblast, but using it in that small room would still have ruined Gramma & Grampa's day. Based on the rest of the movie, Creasy probably would have survived the ensuing fire.
    • This is actually addressed in one draft of the script, where he notices the size of the room and advises the couple to hang a rug over the back wall to protect it from damage. Though it's debatable if a mere rug would have made much difference.
  • Noodle Incident: The large, ugly scar on the back of Creasy's hand goes unexplained, even when Pita pointedly asks about it.
    • Explained in the original book. Creasy had been in the French Foreign Legion during the First Indochina War and was captured by the Viet Minh. During interrogation his hands were cuffed to the top of a table, and when he refused to answer questions the enemy officer would put out lit cigarettes on the backs of his hands. Creasy did give Sam (the young girl he was bodyguarding in the book) a very terse explaination as to what happened ("A bad man was asking me questions... He didn't have an ashtray."), causing Sam to burst into tears in sympathy.
  • Nothing Personal: The people involved with Pita's kidnapping that Creasy tracks down all insist that it was not personal, but just business. Eventually Creasy just gets sick of this response, warning the last person that uses it.
    Creasy: That's what everybody keeps saying. "I'm just a professional". Everybody keeps saying that to me. "I'm just a professional", "I'm just a professional". I'm getting sick and tired of hearing that.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Kidnappers act all tough, relying on fear tactics to achieve their goals, but once they, or their loved ones, are at the hands of Creasy, they're reduced to a quivering mass of flesh.
    • Creasy is a depressed, stoic professional early in the movie, but Pita eventually softens his heart. After she is kidnapped he goes through Tranquil Fury mode the rest of the film.
  • Off with His Head!: This is how Jordan Kalfus dies. Creasy finds his decapitated corpse floating in his pool, with a katana lying nearby, courtesy of Pita's father.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Subverted. "Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?" "No." Which is an interesting take on the concept. If he's already irredeemable, there's no reason to have any moral compunction left.
    Creasy:"Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting."
  • One-Man Army: Aside from some initial help from Rayburn and Mariana, Creasy single-handedly dismantles not only The Voice's organization, but La Hermandad, too. All while slowly bleeding to death. Best demonstrated when he launches a solo attack on Fuentes' armored police convoy, disabling or wiping out his protection detail before taking his target alive.
  • One Last Smoke: Jorge Gonzales, the corrupt cop Creasy interrogates by cutting off his fingers and searing the wounds shut with a lighter, just before getting shot by the latter asks for a cigarette probably realizing he will be killed anyway either by Creasy or by his accomplices for giving too much information.
  • Papa Wolf:
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: What Creasy does to the kidnappers.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The original novel is worse than the film.note 
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Sanchez aka "The Voice" reveals to Creasy that he did not have Pita killed, since "a dead girl is worth nothing". Presumably, he intended to keep Pita until the heat from the failed ransom had died off and extort more money from her family.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Creasy:(Hands him a pistol and a dud bullet) You know what they say...a bullet doesn't lie...It didn't work for me, maybe it'll work for you...( It works)
  • Product Placement: Rayburn has several Nokia cellphones in a line on his nightstand and at least one of them has the Nokia tune as its ringtone.
  • Professional Killer: Creasy.
    Rayburn: A man can be an artist... in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasy's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece.
  • Race Lift:
    • In the original novel, Creasy was a white American member of the French Foreign Legion. In the film, he is a black American and former Marine Force Recon soldier.
    • Downplayed a bit with the Ramos, they were the Italian Ballettos in the original novel but were made Mexican for the film. However, some members of the family such as Pita look very white despite coming from a Latin American country (sort of Truth in Television since Latin America is a very diverse continent that is home to many different races).
      • Pita mentions that her mother is an expatriate American, originally from Texas.
  • Ransom Drop:
  • Retired Monster: Creasy knows he is. He's not happy about it to say the least, but has little trouble making everyone else unhappy about it when motivated. See title.
  • Revised Ending: In the original filmed ending, Creasy does not die in the car on the way to The Voice's house. The two meet and chat for a while about the price of human life. Creasy continually looks down at his watch. When the timer reaches zero, Creasy smiles. Then, the entire house explodes. This implies that Creasy used the rectal bomb that he used on Fuentes earlier in the film. Tony Scott cut the scene because he felt that it did not fit in with the tone of the film.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Creasy takes out a secret society of corrupt policemen, the kidnapping organization that took Lupita, and her own dad (although that was more of an assisted suicide).
  • Screw the Money, This Is Personal!: Creasy yells out a VERY loud "I DON'T WANT YOUR MONEY!!" when the ex-wife of criminal mastermind "The Voice" pulls out a REALLY large pack of money from a secret location after he takes her and the rest of The Voice's family hostage in revenge for the kidnapping and (apparent) death of Lupita Ramos. He does this right after he shoots off the hand of The Voice's brother with a shotgun while The Voice was on the phone so The Voice would understand that there was no way he would smooth-talk or bribe his way out of this.
  • Semper Fi: According to a glance at his resume early on in the movie, Creasy led Force Reconnaissance platoons in combat. The only U.S. military unit generally referred to as "Force Reconnaissance" belongs to the U.S. Marine Corps. Closer examination indicates that he was trained in Quantico, among other places.
  • Setting Update: The original novel was originally set in Italy, with the kidnappers being The Mafia. However, for the 2004 film, the setting was changed as retaining Italy would have forced the film to be a period piece, as kidnappings in Real Life Italy had declined since the 80s. Mexico on the other hand, had become notorious for kidnappings at the time.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Creasy. He was actually Driven to Suicide but the gun didn't fire when he pulled the trigger.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Creasy demands proof that Pita is alive when Sanchez makes his offer, telling him to say what Pita's stuffed bear is called. Sanchez replies back "Creasy Bear", leading Creasy to realize she really is alive.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Happens a lot throughout the film, especially jarring to hear Mickey, by Toni Basil while a man has body parts cut off.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Pita. Her counterpart in the book on which the film is based accidentally dies when her kidnapping is botched. In the film, everyone believes she's dead because of the kidnappers seemingly killing her when the payment goes awry, but Sanchez reveals he's willing to trade her life for Creasy's once his rampage hits its zenith.
  • Stupid Evil: Nearly everybody who has something to do with Pita's kidnapping: Pita's father for allowing it to happen to begin with (in his defense, he seriously believed that Pita wasn't going to be hurt), Fuentes for getting greedy and deciding to have La Hermandad attack this specific Ransom Drop (seriously, it's a kid. For all of their talk of being "professionals", they surely do not have standards) and Jordan Kalfus for knowingly allowing a powerful Dirty Cop to oversee the ransom drop (there was no way that wasn't going to end with Mr. Ramos coming for his blood even without Fuentes and La Hermandad stealing the cash — and sure enough, Creasy providing this information to Pita's family after interrogating Fuentes causes him to decapitate Kalfus with a katana. Really, the only person who actually handled the situation with some common sense is the Voice, who actually kept Pita alive even after the other conspirators all tried to screw him over.
  • The Syndicate: The kidnappers are parts of La Hermandad (Spanish for The Brotherhood), a criminal organization of corrupt police who act with the aid of equally corrupt officials.
  • Taking You with Me: An alternate ending showcases that Creasy did the C-4 trick with himself, to go off when he meets Sanchez. The resulting explosion kills both men.
  • Third-Party Deal Breaker: The negotiations to get back Pita Ramos after she is kidnapped go to hell when a secret brotherhood of dirty cops attack the Ransom Drop to steal the money, killing a nephew of the leader of the kidnapping group. This leads to the kidnapping group apparently killing Pita as payback, leading to John Creasy murdering everybody who had anything to do with the whole mess in revenge.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Pita. She survives though.
    Pita:Dear God, I do not ask for health or wealth. People ask you so often that you can't have any left. Give me, God, what else you have. Give me what no-one else asks for. Amen.
  • Tranquil Fury: In the wake of Pita's abduction and supposed death, Creasy's Roaring Rampage of Revenge contains elements of this as he calmly tortures and kills the various members of La Hermandad in turn. It's only when he's talking to Sanchez over the phone does he finally lose his composure and threatens Sanchez's family, as he's been shot again, and knows that he's running out of time, plus he's sick of hearing these scumbags spout their "I'm a professional" bullshit.
  • Truth in Television:
    • Mexico City has a really high kidnapping rate per capita and this is with 95% of them going unreported to the authorities. The fact that the Mexican police are known for being corrupt doesn't help.
    • Same goes for Creasy's torture techniques. Kidnappers often do this to their victims and send the lopped off ears/fingers to their relatives, along with the warning that they should hurry up and recover what's left of them.
    • There's a point where Creasy is practicing his draw, and he draws his gun close to the body before pushing it out. This is actually a real technique for combat pistol shooting as it naturally puts the sights on target instead of swinging past it. In close-quarters combat, it also allows the shooter to deliver a punch with his pistol and keep control of it away from an opponent who might try to knock or wrestle it away.
  • Unflinching Walk: Creasy does one of these after he blows up the police chief.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: Variation. While kidnapping a little girl is by no means a "small" crime, the fact that this happened in Mexico City (which we are provided an Info Dump at the beginning explaining the absurdly high kidnapping percentage and how it's a normal criminal business around there) means that it's given a slightly-more-than-token-effort because it's a little girl, but nothing else. The trouble for the criminals, though, is that they went and pissed off the wrong Retired Badass while performing this crime...
  • Vigilante Execution:
    • Creasy carries out several of these during the course of the movie against the people responsible for Pita's kidnapping. Pretty violently too, with methods including shooting someone in the face, setting another one on fire after cutting off several of his fingers, and shoving a bomb inside a Dirty Cop's rectum.
    • Detective Manzano shoots the Voice dead at the very end rather than arrest him.
  • Vigilante Man: Creasy assumes this role after the kidnapping.
  • Wham Line: "I will give you her life, for your life."
    • Also, Samuel Ramos: I did it! I agreed to the kidnapping!
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The fates of Creasy and the Big Bad are revealed in this form.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Most of the people in on the kidnapping really couldn't care less if Pita dies as long as they get the ransom money. Subverted, as when the film has almost ended, it is revealed that Pita is, in fact, alive and she wasn't even hurt by her kidnappers, if only because The Voice claims he would never kill someone that might still have value.
    Sanchez: I'm a businessman, a dead girl is worth nothing to me.