A Man Apart (2003) / Action-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong graphic violence, language, drug content and sexuality
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Geno Silva, Steve Eastin, Tony Olyphant, Jacqueline Obradors
Director: F. Gary Gray
Screenplay: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
I hate to see talented actors and a good directorial job go to waste on a derivative script. A Man Apart just doesn't deserve someone as skillful at action as F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator, The Italian Job) or to see Vin Diesel (XXX, Pitch Black) give his best performance to date in a starring role. When you cut right down to it, that is all that this drug and guns B-movie has going for it, so I suppose we can be thankful that it's all made tolerable by the creative forces they were able to bring together. Perhaps a complete retooling of the script should have been in order after realizing they had a potential hot commodity in Diesel on their hands.
This is the kind of vehicle you would generally find someone like Seagal or some other niche action to star in, usually heading straight to video. It's about a DEA agent named Sean Vetter, who orchestrates a take-down of the head of the largest cocaine trafficking cartel in Mexico, Memo Lucero. With Memo now in an American prison serving two life sentences, there exists a void in one of the most lucrative markets in the world, and now a man calling himself Diablo appears to be the prime candidate to take over the top spot. Hits are placed left and right, including an attack on Vetter's house which leaves his wife tragically dead. Unable to cope with the loss, Vetter makes it a personal mission to exact revenge, but finds abiding by the rules of law enforcement too stringent for his tastes. Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands.
Gray does about the best job he can give the lackluster material and the limitations of the actors in showing broad ranges of emotions. It doesn't really stop him from trying to make something good out of it, and I'll give him credit for being able to still create adequate tension, even when it's very obvious where things are leading up to. He also pulls as much as he can out of Diesel, which admittedly isn't much. If nothing else, A Man Apart will shows that Diesel is capable of doing some serious drama, and needn't act like a bad-ass dishing out brutality and one-liners in every scene.
A Man Apart lack distinction in the action genre, delivering just enough to satisfy the die-hard, but not nearly enough to appeal to those who want something different than the norm. Fans of Diesel should enjoy his performance, so long as they aren't expecting him to be Xander Cage in every scene. Other than that, skip it. Even if this is better than most vehicles that cover the same territory, this ground has been covered so much, there's little opportunity for any new ideas to grow.
© 2003 Vince Leo