A Man Apart (2003)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Apr 4, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

A Man Apart follows the lead of numerous vigilante movies that have come down the pike since Charles Bronson first began knocking off bad guys. Vin Diesel's Sean Vetter and his wife live beachside, have their friends over for BBQs, and dance by the sunset -- a virtual guarantee she'll be offed in the first 15 minutes. F. Gary Gray's talents directing action could have distinguished the film after this reliable (if predictable) setup, but only a few scenes contain memorable staging. In one, Vetter and Larenz Tate's Demetrius Hicks trap a perp in an attic, and have to convince the guy to come down peacefully rather than blast them through the floorboards. Vetter's instability is memorably showcased in this taut sequence, but sadly, that constitutes a momentary flicker of inspiration in an otherwise tired tale of mercenary methods used to fight the drug war. For a film whose title underscores the main character's anguish, A Man Apart offers few scenes of Vetter mourning his wife in any poignant way. This may point to Diesel's limitations as an actor more than the screenwriter's wishes, but what we get is a lot of Diesel grabbing people by the lapels. The movie skips sadness and heads straight to anger, where it sits there and stews in its own juices. This creative choice could have worked, but Diesel isn't captivating enough to pull it off. As for the subject matter, Gray seems interested in a realistic look at how police break up drug rings, but most of these sting operations are carried out by just Diesel and Tate, which cuts realism off at the knees. Even the ever-dependable Timothy Olyphant doesn't make much more impact than a few smirks and snide remarks.