Man on fire is based on a novel of the same name and there is an earlier film also based on the novel.
On the director's commentary, Tony Scott claims Man on Fire is a composite of 2 "true" stories. According to the commentary, Creasy is based on a real character in the 70's who hunted down and tortured the kidnappers of a protectee in Europe. There is a series of books that are fictional, but Scott claims this person really existed, was ex-CIA and actually did some of Creasy's actions to get a kid back.
The second story, that has more documentation, concerns recent events in Mexico. It seems that the head of the AFI did work with an investigative journalist to expose the heads of a kidnapping ring, which included the head of the Anti-kidnapping Squad. The man was found with money and a body in the trunk of his car. The journalist received help from the AFI to publicize the identities of someone "The Voice" was based on. He turned himself in due to fear he was going to be killed since he was very unpopular after a young woman had been kidnapped and her ears cut-off. So, if you believe Tony Scott, there are parts of the movie that are based on true events, albeit from different decades. Give a listen to the commentary track on the DVD to hear more about the Mexico story.
Does anyone notice at the end it goes John Creasy and gives a date etc. and recounts for the killing and arrests of other people? Does anyone know why because it seems to suggest the film was based on true story...
The movie is based on a true story from the 70's but the actual kidnapping happened in Europe. There are parts of the movie that have been ad lib from other cases but in essence it is a true story that was written in book form and later transposed into a book. I am not sure if Creasy is actually his real name but none the less its still true.
True Story or not... Great movie!
I just watched it today after a friend recommended it to me and I have to say it is one of my favorite movies now. I really enjoyed it, watched it with the wife. She loved it too.