A Man Apart F. Gary Gray
Published Apr 01, 2003It's easy to understand why Vin "The Man" Diesel would make a film like A Man Apart at this point in his still young career. After the surprise success of The Fast and the Furious and the staggering success of Triple X, Vin obviously wants to continue the momentum of his macho action hero roles while demonstrating that he is more than just his inherent charisma, intimidating physical presence and ability to spout witty one-liners.
A Man Apart may be Vin's strongest acting role to date, rivalling his calm, cool, yet simmering psycho role of Riddick in Pitch Black with an emotive, dishevelled and occasionally raging performance here as a DEA agent set on kill-crazy revenge rampage after his wife is killed as payback after a huge drug bust. But while Vin plays revenge, rage and regret well all bald, goateed, intense and boiling over with barely controlled mayhem it's hardly a challenge for the Diesel and A Man Apart is also of little challenge to the average action film-goer.
Drawing on any number of "good cop pushed too far and seeking payback" movies, which is now its own sub-genre of film, A Man Apart is an economic and stylish movie, courtesy of director F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator), that offers little innovation in a genre that could desperately use some new twists on old themes. A Man Apart also peaks way too early, with the movie's highlight coming about halfway in when Vin's character, Sean Vetter, loses it during an undercover operation, beats a man to death with his bare hands and sets off the most compelling firefight/action sequence of the movie, all the while looking every bit the broken man he's become after his wife's death.
While A Man Apart is a fairly straightforward movie big bust, dead wife, break down, kill-crazy rampage it does have its share of substantial plot holes and lapses in logic that further hinder the run and gun nature of these films, especially when it comes to the identity of the "new" drug lord responsible for his wife's murder and Vetter's ability to basically gun down whoever gets in his way without any repercussions from the police. Still, for fans of Vin, A Man Apart should satisfy the action quotient, but if Vin really wants to show the world he can act, and he can, really, he needs to do it in a movie with a lower body count. (New Line/Alliance Atlantis)