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DHS- John Creasy

John Creasy

John W. Creasy is the main protagonist of the 2004 thriller-drama, Man on Fire. He is also the protagonist of the 1980 novel which created a series of books, and the 1987 film adaptation, where he was played by Scott Glenn.

He was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the better known 2004 version.


He was created by English author Philip Nicholson, writing as A. J. Quinnell. He wrote under a pseundonym because he didn't want the mafia to target him. "Marcus Creasy" of the novel originally went on a rampage in Italy, as revenge against the mafia. In the novel, Creasy originates from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He served in the French Foreign Legion before becoming Pinta's bodyguard. 

  • Quinnell based Creasy on several people he knew from Africa and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. He imagined that Creasy would look like actor Robert Mitchum. And in the novel, "Pinta", the girl he was to keep safe, was raped and murdered by the mafia, and Creasy finished his rampage by killing the don of the mafia, where he lives in Gozo for the rest of his life. In the 1987 film adaptation, which also took place in Italy, Creasy was renamed to John for the film, where he was portrayed by Scott Glenn and said to have been with the CIA for routine assignments in Saigon, Vietnam and Beiruit, Lebanon. Creasy of the 1987 version was unkempt and looked a little like John Lennon, and he carried a Beretta pistol. In the film, "Sam", his charge, was kidnapped and wounded by the mafia, but she survived. Creasy then faked his death and then reunited with her.
  • The 2004 film is much darker and more serious than the 1987 film, closer to the tone of the original novel. The 2004 film used much of the book's dialogue and didn't describe Creasy's life as much, only clueing the audience into the fact that he killed a lot of people and is traumatized for that.
  • The film renamed Pinta to "Lupita" because Pinta translates to "whore" in Mexican slang. The film was also relocated to Mexico, as Central America is the site of most political kidnappings today. The film also introduced the aspect that Creasy should be struggling with his faith and be very religious, despite his brutal methods of torture and murder; as suggested by Denzel Washington. In the film, Creasy also gets shot about five times, and dies of his injuries at the end of the film, although he gives his life to save Pita's.
  • Although he did not like the more artistic tone of the 1987 adaptation, Quinnell gave the 2004 film a favorable review.

2004 Timeline Character Biography[]

After years of dirty work as a Marine and later an assassin for the CIA, John Creasy is pretty much dead on the inside and is a hard drinking alcoholic to numb the painful memories of all the people he killed in his lifetime. However, when he accepts a job from his old friend Paul Rayburn, he gets a chance at redemption. He is also covered in scars from unknown causes. There is a deep gash in his left eyebrow and numerous welts on his knuckles. It is never explicitly revealed why he has these scars, which is part of what adds to his tragic backstory.

In Mexico City, there is a wave of kidnappings happening where children of wealthy families are being taken and held for large ransoms. The man behind them is simply known as “The Voice”, who has a web of corrupt officials and goons working for him. The wealthy automobile manufacturer, the Ramos family, hires Creasy to be the bodyguard for their daughter Lupita, who they call "Pita". Creasy gets drunk one night, and particularly distraught, attempts to shoot himself with his Glock 34 to the music of Linda Ronstadt. However, the bullet fails to fire, presumably as a result of a bad primer. Creasy goes out onto the patio in the rain and calls Rayburn, who tells him that "a bullet always tells the truth", implying that God intended for Creasy to live for some reason. Creasy saves the bullet but gets pestered by the precotious child, who he barely tolerates. Although he could care less, Pita’s big heart eventually wins him over and the two become close friends. Creasy gives up drinking and Pita becomes the daughter he never had, mentoring her with her swim lessons and taking her out to lunch with Rayburn.

One day after dropping Pita off to her piano lessons, Creasy sees a suspicious looking car circling around the block as well as a pair of police cars blocking one end of the street. As Pita leaves the piano teacher’s house, Creasy fires a shot and tells her to run and a firefight breaks out. Creasy manages to kill four of the kidnappers but is shot multiple times and Pita is taken. The Voice demands $10 million for Pita’s return and Samuel Ramos delivers the money to the designated spot. The Voice’s men are ambushed however and he calls back to say that Pita is dead. Creasy hears this and after healing up, vows to kill everyone involved.

DHS- John Creasy (Denzel Washington) in Man on Fire (2004)

Creasy buys a small arsenal of weapons from an illegal gun dealer and starts to brutally take out corrupt police officers and officials. He tracks one down based on the license plate number and the shot up windshield and tapes him to the steering wheel. They then drive to an isolated junkyard and Creasy asks him questions about the kidnapping ring. When the man refuses to answer, Creasy begins to cut the man's fingers off, using a cigarette lighter to cauterize them. He then cuts off his ear and shoots him in the head, pushing the car off a cliff and causing it to explode. He then uses a sawn-off shotgun to break into a Rave and kill all the kidnappers that live there, burning the place down in the process. He then carves a path of destruction through Mexico City as he makes his way to the top of the kidnapping ring. He uses a Chinese RPG rocket launcher to take out a motorcade and then kidnap the president of La Hermenadad, a brotherhood of corrupt cops, who he then kills by jamming a small container full of C-4 plastic explosive up his rectum. 

Creasy then learns that the kidnapping was actually set up by Samuel Ramos and his lawyer Jordan Kalfus in order to get insurance money as Ramos was going bankrupt. Creasy gives Ramos a Glock 17 with only the bullet he earlier tried to use to kill himself, and encourages Ramos to take his own life, which he does. Creasy then gets the last piece of the kidnapping puzzle as he learns that the Voice is Daniel Sanchez.

Creasy breaks into Sanchez’s brother’s house and tortures him by shooting off his fingers with the shotgun as he calls Sanchez. Sanchez reveals that Pita is still alive and that he will trade Pita for Creasy and his brother. Creasy and Lisa Ramos drive to the meeting spot and the exchange takes place, where he says goodbye to Pita. Creasy succumbs to his repeated gunshot wounds he recieved earlier in the back of Sanchez’s car; but Pita is safe and he gets the last laugh as Detective Manzano, who had been following and helping Creasy, shoots Sanchez at his home and leaves him floating in his pool.


  • "Okay, my friend. It's off to the next life for you. I guarantee you, you won't be lonely."
  • "I'm gonna take your family apart piece by piece, you understand me? Piece by piece."
  • "Revenge is a meal best served cold."
  • "I'm gonna ask your wife a couple of questions. You move... you make one sound... I'll snatch the life right outta you, understand?"
  • "I am the sheep that got lost, Madre."
  • "I am going to ask questions. If you don't answer fully and truthfully, you will suffer much more than you have to. I'm going to cut your fingers off. One by one, if I have to."
  • "I got all the time in the world. *You* don't, but I do."
  • "There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"
  • "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."
  • "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."

Weapons Used[]

  • Glock 34 pistol
  • Glock 17 pistol
  • SIG-Sauer P226 pistol
  • Colt Gold Cup National Match pistol
  • Colt Commander pistol
  • Sawn-off Zabela double-barreled shotgun
  • M3A1 "Grease Gun" submachine gun (bought, never used)
  • Baseball grenades
  • Chinese RPG


A.J. Quinnell novels[]

  • Man on Fire (1980)
  • The Perfect Kill (1992)
  • The Blue Ring (1993)
  • Black Horn (1994)
  • Message From Hell (1996)

Film Adaptations[]

  • Man on Fire (1987)
  • Man on Fire (2004)