An attempt for actor Vin Diesel to show that he's capable of dramatic acting (the actor ecen exec produced), "A Man Apart" (originally called "Diablo" - a video game company sued, as their game had the same title) still managed to have a fairly decent shelf life of a couple of years before being released into theaters earlier this year. That's not to say this is a bad film - not at all; it's just an average, familiar film that - with a better screenplay - could have been a better showcase for the actor.
The film opens with DEA agent Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) finally tracking down the drug lord, Meno (Geno Silva), that he has been tracking for years. The cartels get revenge and Sean loses his wife Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors). It may have been Meno's involvement, although another suspect is a new dealer by the name of El Diablo, who tries to set himself up as the replacement.
So sets up a revenge tale, with Vetter tracking down - even after losing his badge - everyone involved, assisted by his partner (a very good Larenz Tate). The problem with "A Man Apart" isn't Diesel or director F. Gary Grey; it's that the screenplay seems to be built from countless other, similar police dramas from the past. It also doesn't help that a few scenes don't make much sense, and appear to have been reworked in the time the film was on the shelf. The film also transitions awkwardly between action and drama.
Diesel's performance isn't bad, but the movie tries to play things a little too gritty and a little too low-key for its own good. Diesel certainly is intimidating and brings the usual gravelly voice, but the character could have used a bit of the intensity and unpredictability he brought to his role in "Pitch Black". Grey, who brought such a rapid-fire crackle to "The Negotiator" and this Summer's "Italian Job" remake, could have also worked to improve the pacing. Cinematographer Jack N. Green and the locations certainly do give the film a convincingly gritty feel, though.
Overall, this is one of those movies where the elements are there to maybe take the picture above its formula roots, but the script isn't there to back it up. With an improved screenplay, maybe some reworking of the rather incoherent action scenes and a bit of tighting, this could have been another hit for the actor. Still, he's got plenty to move onto, with "Pitch Black" and "XXX" sequels soon to arrive.
VIDEO: "A Man Apart" is presented by New Line Home Video in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is generally a fine transfer, although a few minor faults here and there keep the presentation from reaching the kind of level that most New Line titles arrive at. Sharpness and detail are very good, although some scenes occasionally appear slightly less well-defined than the rest.
Although the picture often appeared crisp and clean, a few scenes suffered from some noticable edge enhancement. Slight specks on the print were detected in a couple of scenes, as were a trace instance or two of compression artifacts. The edge enhancement was the only problem that was very noticable, although it only appeared briefly. Colors were bright and well-rendered, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "A Man Apart" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is an adequate soundtrack, which offers up a satisfactory amount of surround use during the more intense sequences. However, things generally fold up during the remainder, aside from the occasional touches of ambient sounds. There's little score involved, and dialogue remained clear aside from a few lines from Diesel that were slightly mumbled.
EXTRAS: 7 deleted scenes (w/out commentary), trailer and ads for other New Line titles.
Final Thoughts: The grim "A Man Apart" skips uneasily between action and drama, never doing anything much new with the genre. Fans of Diesel may want to try a rental. New Line's DVD offers good audio/video quality, but not much in the way of supplements.
The Film **