Review: A Man Apart

Note to cocky drug enforcement officers: Don’t try to be a superman.

A Man Apart
Photo: New Line Cinema

Note to cocky drug enforcement officers: Don’t try to be a superman. Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) nabs a big-time Mexican drug czar after seven years on the hunt and sees his world fall apart when his girlfriend is killed in what looks like an act of retaliation. Before getting down to bizness, Sean must endure a hospital-bed breakdown sequence and an obligatory moment of woe-is-me observation on his beachside property. Sean can’t squeeze imprisoned drug overlord Memo (Geno Silva) for information—that is, not until the Mexican baddie loses his familia to an ironic car explosion. A Man Apart wants to be numinous (how else do you explain why the film’s title changed from its original video game moniker El Diablo?) but the material is unadulterated make-out session: Diesel provides let’s-get-it-on narration; angry Latinas pack heat (not least of which in their oft-massaged posteriors); Larenz Tate keeps rambling on about wanting “to get his fuck on”; and scantily-clad white girls walk around in their jammies (soundtrack courtesy of Aaliyah). Timothy Olyphant’s Hollywood Jack asks at one point: “There’s a human being called Overdose?” Yes there is and, surprisingly, the film itself isn’t as lethal as you might expect. Acclaimed music video director F. Gary Gray inexplicably observes the sleaze with utter disinterest, but A Man Apart is still too witless to be taken as existential crisis. Amid the film’s incessant gunfire, Diesel pauses frequently to contemplate the carnage as if he were lost in an urban version of A Thin Red Line.

Score: 
 Cast: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Steve Eastin, Timothy Olyphant, Jacqueline Obradors, Geno Silva, Emilio Rivera, Santiago Verdu  Director: F. Gary Gray  Screenwriter: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring  Distributor: New Line Cinema  Running Time: 105 min  Rating: R  Year: 2003  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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