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A Man Apart

Remember the uncomfortable scene in Goonies when the bad guys were going to shove Chunk's big meaty fist into the blender? Well, A Man Apart (nee Diablo) feels like watching a bunch of chunks of hit movies in a blender while the big meaty fist has been shoved somewhere much less comfortable.

Strike two for Vin Diesel, and a third felony strike from director F. Gary Gray, A Man Apart basically boils down to Traffic meets Dirty Harry without the soul or skill of either film.

The picture starts with Sean Vetter (Diesel) and his DEA team raiding a Mexican strip show to arrest a drug lord. Why a federal agency from the US is doing raids on foreign soil isn't really covered. Vetter and his partner Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate) celebrate at Vetter's fabulous beach front with seemingly actively criminal friends like Big Sexy (George Sharperson). It's never overtly said that Vetter is dirty, but all the signs are there.

Such observations are probably a touch too complex for a picture of this caliber, considering we are treated to three back to back to back scenes that establish over and over that indeed Mr. and Mrs. Vetter (Jacqueline Obradors) are in love. Really in love. Very much in love. So in love, in fact, that the only thing that can happen next is a botched hit on Agent Vetter that wounds him and kills his wife. His wife that he loves a whole lot.

Since he loved her so much the only thing he can do is go on a revenge fueled grudge case against the mysterious Diablo behind the death of his beloved wife. The rest of this picture plods along with little logic and no style featuring such genre classics as "You're too close to the case, turn in your badge and gun!", "What would you do if it was your wife?" and multiple visits to the grave of the wife he loved with all his heart.

What is most bothersome about A Man Apart is its complete lack of moral complexity. Dirty Harry was the story of a man who had become too savage to know right from wrong but still tried to do the right thing. A Man Apart tells the story of a man who is angered by the death of his wife and is redeemed by killing many uninvolved parties in his quest to catch the man who ordered the hit. Vetter never pays a price for his actions. He pays the price of losing his wife and so goes on the warpath with nothing more to lose and nothing to learn.

Less bothersome but bothersome nonetheless is the picture's awful storytelling. Starting with a opening narration about how some astute Mexican business man figured out that drugs would be lucrative in the "Northern border towns." I figure that's because the there's less opportunity selling to Guatemala to the south and the water to the east and west, but then again what do I know, I'm no businessman.

The picture makes up for its blandness with its lack of originality and its inability to choose an ending. I noted direct lifts from Blood Simple, Casino, The Godfather and, in the second part of its interminable trilogy of ending, Silence of the Lambs. As if this wasn't enough, I feel we need an official moratorium on Viagra jokes and rich white characters that actually use the epithet "jig."

There's not much left to say about this picture other than don't see it. Save your money and your time and your brain cells and rent Traffic or Dirty Harry. Hell, scrounge up the DVDs of NBC's Kingpin or watch The Dead Pool on the Superstation. Anything that doesn't help reward anyone for being involved in this turd.

The only good thing I can say for it is that the closing credits made me aware of the man who will be filing my taxes from now on, Post Production Accountant, Zane. Just Zane.

What's It Worth? $1.50 and some dignity

Jordan Rosa

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