Cast & Crew
Hollywood Jack Slayton
Produced by Robert
John Degus, Vin Diesel, F. Gary Gray, Vincent Newman, Joey
Nittolo, Tucker Tooley and George Zakk; Directed by
F. Gary Gray; Screenwritten by Christian Gudegast
and Paul Scheuring
Rated R for strong graphic violence, language, drug
content and sexuality; Running Time - 114 Minutes
Domestic Release Dates:
April 4, 2003
by DAVID KEYES
of "A Man Apart"s early scenes features a specifically
stressed dialogue exchange in which a commanding officer
instructs the men in his anti-narcotics team, one member
of which is played by Vin Diesel, to drop their firearms
before descending into a deadly drug bust to capture an
infamous cartel leader. They follow through on the order
because, well, it's the safer scenario. Then we cut to the
next scene where we witness both the good guys and the bad
guys engaged in major gunplay, thousands of rounds of ammunition
piercing everything in sight as a result. Emphasizing this
specific event wouldn't ordinarily be necessary at the start
of a film review, but in this movie, it underlines not only
an exact logic problem with one scene, but with the whole
film itself. Like a chain reaction, this kind of implausible
subtext repeats itself over and over again throughout this
endeavor, depleting us of basic patience and robbing the
film of its essential function to make a shred of sense.
movie is a crime-spree thriller sketched with a paint-by-number
mentality, a gauzy and uninspired piece of work that is
not only predictable, but also cold and callous whenever
it tries reaching for the emotional underpinning. Diesel
plays Sean Vetter, the top dog of his field in Southern
California who has just successfully captured the one man
whom the anti-narcotics department has been tracking down
for yearsthe drug leader responsible for most of the
major cocaine trafficking between Mexico and the United
States. "You have no idea what you're up against,"
the newly-captured drug lord cryptically informs Vetter,
although the rugge not to mention concealedcop
is unalarmed by the veiled threat.
that evening, he goes home to greet his loving wife Stacy
(Jacqueline Obradors), a woman, we gather, who is used to
spending day after day alone in a big beach house while
her man is off saving the world. The minute he walks into
the room, though, her eyes light up and she falls into his
arms, aware of what her husband does but wise enough not
to pry in on specific details that aren't any of her business.
The happiness is obvious, although as expected in a movie
like this, it doesn't last long. Stacy and Sean's home is
invaded shortly afterwards by gunmen; he is seriously wounded
(although not before killing one of the two shooters himself),
and she dies after taking a bullet in her stomach.
much to the displeasure of the department that expected
the trafficking efforts to crumble without the benefit of
a leader, the drug cartel undergoes major changes and upgrades.
"This territory now belongs to "Diablo,"
a gunmen shouts into the crowds of a Mexico-based cocaine
operation, suggesting that the ring is now only still alive
and well, but taken over by a new leader. Who that is, the
movie does not immediately reveal, and it provides ample
opportunity for Sean to create a revenge plot and unravel
the misdeeds of whoever was behind his own assassination
attempt. Is the old cartel leader still operating from jail?
Or did the hit come from the mysterious Hollywood Jack (Timothy
Olyphant), who seems like the average working-class guy
in southern California until he offs Sean's surviving shooter
for not getting the job done?
are basic narrative lines that aren't too difficult to follow,
but the problem with "A Man Apart" is that it
wraps them in countless sequences that either seem irrelevant
to the story, are too hectic and jumbled to clearly identify
what is actually going on, or lack essential human logic.
What, for instance, is the significance of a shoot-out in
which Sean beats and kills a man before his supposed ally
pulls out a gun on him? How is it possible for someone to
successfully smuggle a phone into a maximum security federal
prison for a famous drug leader to use in his jail cell
without anyone noticing? The celluloid is like a giant piece
of Swiss cheese, sporadically leaving gaps here and there
without the need to explain or justify them.
deserves so much more than a ho-hum vehicle like this. No,
not necessarily because his other work has been much betterin
fact, only one of his major efforts, the high-octane spy
thriller "XXX," actually falls on the positive
side of the scalebut because he always manages to
turn out tolerable performances in even the most mediocre
screen treatments. Unlike Sylvester Stallone or, to some
degree, Arnold Schwarzenegger, this isn't a man who simply
jumps in front of a camera and allows his muscles to do
all the acting. He's genuine and has personality on even
the most wasted endeavors, delivering his dialogue and his
emotion without laboring it into the standard action film
practice. In many ways, he's very plausible in "A Man
Apart" as well, although the script doesn't give him
ample time to really demonstrate what he, or anything else,
is capable of.
director, F. Gary Gray, isn't exactly one of my favorite
filmmakers to begin with, but surprisingly, his visual efforts
here do allow some relief from the insufferable writing.
The movie looks great and builds terrific atmosphere, especially
during scenes when both protagonist and antagonist have
unlikely meetings in the prison chapel to discuss the impending
threat of this "Diablo" persona. Unfortunately,
even that aspect of the movie dwindles by the time the final
act reaches the projectorthe buildup to the climax
is pretentious, and the actual revelation at the end is
so predictable and obvious that it has one wondering if
it even is the actual ending. "A Man Apart" may
be another movie under the belt of one of action's most
promising new stars, but it's certainly not a worthy one.
© 2003, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.