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"A Man Apart"

Directed by F. Gary Gray ("Friday", "The Negotiator").
Written by Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring.
Starring Vin Diesel and Larenz Tate.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  4/21/03


Yeah, I’m on the Vin Diesel bandwagon (Chuck and I have been since “Pitch Black”), and I’m still hopeful that one day soon, he will make a “Top Gun” or a “Terminator”-like film that will seal his legacy as a solid Hollywood star.  Since I had heard “A Man Apart” was finished in early 2001 (!!), I knew that this would probably not be that legacy-sealing endeavor.  However, I didn’t even think that something like what my friend Colleen said after we watched “A Man Apart” would be the case... 

“Man, Vin Diesel is looking like the next Steven Seagal!!” 

My God, I thought, could it be?  See, “A Man Apart” is nothing special--its plot is standard issue, its cast is vaguely familiar save for Diesel, and its production design often meets or subserves most TV dramas.  The story of a DEA agent (Diesel) out to avenge the murder of his high school sweetheart wife has many of the clichés associated with these druglord/kingpin dramas, right down to a scene where cartel members are blown up in a black SUV with tinted windows right after someone turns the ignition on (Hollywood 101--cartel members don’t drive colored vehicles with tinted windows--just black ones!!).  Diesel plays the angry cop with conviction, and as always he is very watchable, even if the things around him are not all that interesting.  Even the action scenes are surprisingly well done, highlighted by a tight sequence mid-film with a drug bust gone wrong.  Rob and I even agreed after the film that this scene is so good it almost doesn’t belong in this film, as if someone with more talent that the filmmakers of “A Man Apart” made it and spliced it into the wrong final print. 

But, “A Man Apart” never seems to aspire to be anything more than an average drug drama, and it rubs off on the audience.  Rob, Colleen and Sarah Dobson all thought the film was mostly dogshit; I thought it was just better than that because of Diesel and the fact that I love Larenz Tate (“Menace II Society”) and just seeing him up onscreen reminds me of what I thought Tate would end up being--a huge superstar in the making after “Dead Presidents” and “Love Jones.”  Instead, it just never turned out for him and he ends up in this shit. 

And so, you are left with a so-so film that is periodically entertaining but better off left for the video store UNLESS you, too, are on the Diesel bandwagon.  When will Vin make a great movie?

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09