A Man Apart Review
By Shawn McKenzie 04/04/2003
Vin Diesel has been on an acting downward slope in the last few years. The more popular he has gotten, the worse his acting has become. I was impressed with the man years ago in movies like Boiler Room and Pitch Black. Recent movies like The Fast and the Furious and XXX have been cool action pics, but his acting in them wasn’t exactly stellar. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see Knockaround Guys, but I heard it wasn’t his best acting either. His new movie, A Man Apart, might be an indication that he is on the acting comeback trail. I just wish the story had been more interesting.
Sean Vetter (Diesel) and his partner Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate) are Los Angeles DEA agents who have an advantage over other cops. They grew up on the same streets as the guys they are trying to arrest, so they are the most effective in busting the criminals. They have been fighting a seven-year war to stop the powerful drug pipeline along the US/Mexico border. They thought they had finally won when they took down the Baja Cartel kingpin Memo Lucero (Geno Silva.) Since Lucero was now locked up in a maximum-security prison, Vetter was finally able to go home to his wife, Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors), a woman he has known and loved deeply since they were teenagers. Lucero’s arrest only summoned a new figure, known only as El Diablo, to take over the Baja Cartel. Vetter and Hicks then began to try to find out who Diablo was and stop him before he became too dominant. Diablo’s response to Vetter’s intrusiveness was to kill Stacy. This of course made Vetter nuts, and with revenge on his mind, he does everything he can, including a few illegal things, to bring Diablo down. Unfortunately, this includes swallowing his rage and working with the former Cartel boss Lucero. His boss, Ty Frost (Steve Eastin), demands that he take some time to grieve over Stacy. Vetter ignores Frost and continues his investigation of Diablo, which leads him to a Beverly Hills spa owner named Hollywood Jack Slayton (Timothy Olyphant), a perp whom he suspects of being a drug trafficker, or possibly Diablo himself. Another suspect is Mateo Santos (Juan Fernandez), Lucero’s brother-in-law, who has tried to fill in for Lucero since his arrest. With the help of Hicks and old associates from their younger days, like Big Sexy (George Sharperson), Vetter will hopefully find Diablo and stop him before he ruins anyone else’s life.
Diesel shows more emotion here than he did in XXX, which is a good sign. His facial expressions were great, but he still has that monotone sound to his voice when he speaks his lines. I believe that will improve soon as well. Tate is awesome in this movie. I predict he will get an Oscar nomination in the next couple of years. It just won’t be for this film.
The movie’s one major weakness is the story. Even though I won’t spoil it for you, I could tell who El Diablo was from a mile away. I’m the type that allows myself to get easily suckered into a surprise movie ending just for the fun of it, so when this movie didn’t surprise me, I was disappointed.
Aside from some decent acting, one of the movie’s strengths was the action. There isn’t the slam-bang action of XXX here, but the action scenes that the movie does have were cool. Director F. Gary Gray does know his stuff; he helmed the smart action films Set It Off and The Negotiator. His experience directing Friday may have also contributed to the effective use of humor during the film’s brief light moments.
Tate wasn’t the only supporting character that stood out in this movie. A few others were memorable mainly because of the performances of the actors who played them. Sharperson and Olyphant (whom I swear is becoming the John C. Reilly of 2003; I’ve already seen him in The Safety of Objects and Dreamcatcher) both deserve kudos for their appearances.
A Man Apart may be predictable, but if you are a fan of Diesel, I think you will like it. If he keeps up this momentum, maybe we’ll see him at the Oscars someday as a nominee…right next to Tate.
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