Film Reviews


By • Apr 4th, 2003 •

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New Line Cinema
A Vincent Newman & Tucker Tooley and Joseph Nittolo Entertainment production
Running time –110 minutes / MPAA rating: R

This is a Vin Diesel movie that ignores him. Diesel was hailed as an unlikely phenomenon. He’s not movie star appropriate, yet under the guidance of Rob Cohen who directed him in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and XXX, he became last year’s Big, Big Thing (2003 is rightfully going to be the year of Colin Farrell).

Diesel is Cohen’s alter ego. He’s actually Cohen’s stand-in. Cohen made him a sex symbol. Cohen loves Diesel because he’s really playing the fantasized Rob Cohen. F. Gary Gray, who directed A MAN APART, does not have the same feelings for Diesel. Not only doesn’t Gray play to Diesel’s strengths, he treats him as a supporting player. There are no flattering angles of Diesel; he’s practically sidelined. Perhaps Gray isn’t all to blame. Let’s also blame one of the producers: Vin Diesel. He’s held responsible for not understanding his audience appeal. He should have hired a director who wanted to, if not mythologize him, at least make him look good. The screenplay was not fashioned as a star vehicle.

Actually filmed between THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and XXX, A MAN APART is a muddled story about a rogue L.A. DEA team. Sean Vetter (Diesel) and his little partner Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate) take down Memo Lucero (Geno Silva) a drug kingpin in Mexico and return him to the U.S. to live in prison. Another ruthless kingpin, Diablo, takes his place. Diablo attempts to assassinate Sean at his beachfront Malibu house, but only his wife Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors) is killed. Vetter, according to the formula, is out for bloody revenge. We can tell he means business because he wears a goatee. In wrecking havoc, Vetter breaks a lot of laws and kills people. Luckily, Timothy Olyphant (he will survive DREAMCATCHER) turns up as an arrogant, reed-thin, Porsche-driving drug dealer. He treats Vetter like a traffic cop.

Yes, A MAN APART has the requisite wild killing in the streets (where all the killers are female!) that we have come to believe undercover DEA agents engage in daily. But the story moves along at a slow pace. Nothing fresh happens. It seems to end several times. If audiences are primed for a Vin Diesel movie, they will be disappointed. As Steve Greer, of Greer Communications, succinctly whispered to me at the end of the screening, “It’s a Steve Seagal movie with Seagal.”

Sean Vetter: Vin Diesel
Demetrius Hicks: Larenz Tate
Jack Slayton: Timothy Olyphant
Stacy Vetter: Jacqueline Obradors
Memo Lucero: Geno Silva
Mateo Santos: Juan Fernandez
Ty Frost: Steve Eastin
Big Sexy: George Sharperson

Director: F Gary Gray
Screenwriters: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
Producers: Tucker Tooley, Vincent Newman, Joseph Nittolo, Vin Diesel
Executive producers: Michael De Luca, Claire Rudnick Polstein, F Gary Gray
Director of photography: Jack N. Green
Production designer: Ida Random
Music: Anne Dudley
Co-producer: George Zakk
Costume designer: Shawn Barton
Editors: Bob Brown, William Hoy

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