Diesel plays seasoned DEA agent Sean Vetter, who is part of a group of agents that have spent the last seven years assigned to halt the Mexican drug pipeline headed by kingpin Memo Lucero (Geno Silva). Despite the eventual success Vetter and his partner Demetrius (Larenz Tate) have at putting Lucero behind bars, they soon face a greater challenge when a hit meant for Vetter is botched and his wife is killed. This lights a raging fire under Vetter's ass, and he is now hell-bent on avenging his wife's murder and putting an end to the newest cartel headed by a man named Diablo.
My hands lack the fingers needed to count all of the other films employing this type of catch, and first time screenwriters Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring have not disappointed by covering all of the usual bases. To start, the material is too wordy - long stretches of the film are devoted to superfluous talk and meaningless negotiations. And other than Diesel's Vetter, the remaining characters execute their gangster roles with little effort or emotion. Fortunately, Diesel is given a much broader palette - after all, he is the star! Instead of the one-dimensional fighting machine typical of this genre, here Diesel's character is much more pensive. We are able to sympathize with Diesel because the emotion and rage he feels over the death of his wife is more than just a superficial explanation for his eventual actions. We see his mind at work. We feel his pain.
A Man Apart mirrors much of the same stylized direction former music video director F. Gary Gray used in the surprisingly effective thriller The Negotiator. This time around though, the material is far less interesting. Despite some shortcomings, Gray is still able to throw together a competent direction, including one of the best gunfights since the explosive shoot-out bank robbery in Michael Mann's Heat. The problem with Gray's film is that there is not enough action to make it just an action thriller and not enough of the brooding Diesel to make it simply a dramatic character study. Gray tries his best to stretch the story in both directions, but instead Man ends up being just a watered down version of a much better drug cartel film, Traffic.
If A Man Apart had been made post XXX and Furious, I would have applauded Diesel's efforts for taking a role against his action hero type. But the production was completed over two years ago, long before the release of the films that ultimately made him a star. I can only presume that the film sat on New Line's shelves until Diesel's stardom peaked, and now that it has, Man has all but guaranteed a profit for New Line and given the die-hard fans something to devour. With that, we return you to our regularly scheduled programming.
The DVD adds a few deleted scenes to the film -- the "Miss Fake and Bake" scene is not to be missed.
They said "no parking" and they meant it!
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th April 2003
Box Office USA: $26.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $44.4M
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Production compaines: Newman/Tooley Films, "DIA" Productions GmbH & Co. KG, Joseph Nittolo Entertainment, New Line Cinema
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 116
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel as Sean Vetter, Larenz Tate as Demetrius Hicks, Timothy Olyphant as Hollywood Jack, Geno Silva as Memo Lucero, Jacqueline Obradors as Stacy Vetter, Steve Eastin as Ty Frost, Juan Fernández as Mateo Santos, Jeff Kober as Pomona Joe, Marco Rodríguez as Hondo, Mike Moroff as Gustavo Leon, Emilio Rivera as Garza, George Sharperson as Big Sexy, Malieek Straughter as Overdose, Alice Amter as Marta, Jim Boeke as Bad Cop