Viewed on 30 May 03   Vin Diesel has suffered from the beginning under his accusers' pointing fingers: "You can't act."    In A MAN APART, would-be actor Diesel turns the corner and does some real acting - fulfilling, at least in part, the potential his mentors saw in him from the beginning.    Don't expect a Laurence Olivier or a Richard Burton, but at least he has risen head and shoulders above the dead-wood Adam Sandlers and Owen Wilsons.
The overall plot of A MAN APART is yet another "Death Wish", and Vin Diesel is our new Charles Bronson.    This time around, drug kingpin Memo Lucero (Geno Silva) finds he not only can continue to direct 'traffic' from behind bars, he can also derive perverted satisfaction from it.  In trying to put a stop to it, Sean Vetter (Diesel) finds he has more than met his match.    Neither this, nor anything that follows is original.  So, in retrospect, we ask ourselves why A MAN APART is not just another overly-expensive, overly-napalmed Hollywood 'B' actioner?    We've already mentioned that the acting is credible.  And there are a couple of interesting plot twists that keep us from falling asleep, but where the film diverges from the rest - what makes it 'a film apart' is the action itself.  There is extreme violence; violence that Director F Gary Gray doesn't apologize for.  It is, likewise, neither "politically correct", nor "morally correct" in order to spare our sensibilities.  In other words, someone (someone where it counted) said, "Lets do a film that smacks of realism, and let the Devil take the hindmost."   No pandering to do-gooder censors, film-raters or critics who 'know what's best for you'.
A MAN APART is profanity, hardball violence and some actual bare flesh.   If you like that sort of thing, take it in soon, before the censors get to it.   Correctly rated "R", A MAN APART is one of the few films this reviewer would not recommend taking the youngsters to.  Take instead, a lot of popcorn, with action like this, you'll go through a half-tub before the movie is half over.
Enduring Line or Phrase:  "As a cop, that's impossible; you must become a monster."
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