|While action thriller, xXx, might not have been a film that would test the emotional strength of star Vin Diesel, A Man Apart is more a film that might gain Diesel some respect as an actor interested in more than giant explosions and fast car chases. Though the film itself is not the most impressive example of its genre, Apart marks a good effort by cast and crew to create an enjoyable action film that spares a few moments for scenes "between buddies" and among lovers.|
In a good piece of casting, Jacqueline Obradors, lately of "NYPD Blue" fame, makes her role as Diesel's wife a memorable one and with her "exit" from the film early on in the movie's running time (as shown in the trailer for the film), it's a testament to Obradors' capabilities as an actress that she is able to make her character such an important and memorable one even when she's no longer on the screen. She has realistic romantic chemistry with Diesel and believing that the two have been married a decade is an easy task for viewers.
In what might be his most "emotional" role to date, Diesel performs well in the lead role as "Sean Vetter," an undercover ATF agent who helps to take down one of the largest cocaine smugglers in Mexico only to find his life in jeopardy. In a film whose two basic emotions are love and revenge, it isn't difficult to present a narrative that viewers can get caught up in and enjoy. Because Diesel makes his performance an engaging one, feeling empathy for his character is an easy task, and a necessary one if viewers are to take the film seriously and want to see it to its conclusion.
In a supporting role as Sean Vetter's best friend, "Demetrius," Larenz Tate, makes his very standard buddy character a sympathetic one as well, infusing his performance with well-placed humor and a dramatic intensity that plays well off of Diesel's considerable star power. Another supporting character, "Hollywood Jack," a drug dealer posing as a gay hair dresser (played by Timothy Olyphant, is an interesting creation as well, given that he is as scary as he is comedic. His character is easily menacing in some scenes, but the comic relief he provides in others is a welcome addition to what is a rather serious film.
What might keep this film from receiving a varied demographic at the box office is its tendency to wade through feature film territory that's been hammered to death by countless films before it. The topic of revenge is a tried and true method for creating conflict in a film and it's served many actors well in the past. But in A Man Apart, the story-line just seems too familiar with the plot failing to bring the audience anything really surprising. There is then quite a focus on what the actors can or cannot bring to the screen, since their doings are what will or will not keep viewers interested in the story.
The techniques for nearly all the elements of this film have really been seen so many times before that it's interesting that someone on the production didn't notice this "oversight" and offer to run the script through another rewrite. Even if the film's dialogue and characters became genuine creations on screen, being able to foretell the next scene with a ten foot pole doesn't place the screenwriter or director in the most favorable light. How many times before have we seen an epic story of drug cartels and American law enforcement and the ways in which those two sides clash?
Though it makes for entertaining action sequences, the relationships between those two sets of people have been investigated on film countless times before. It begs the question: is Hollywood so out of ideas that it needs to recycle them in so obvious a manner? Do ticket buyers not deserve the best product that filmmakers can create? It is too often an occurrence lately that a film is labeled "just another action movie" and passed over by giant audiences, with the box office totals showing tickets bought by only the most die-hard fans of explosions, gun fights, and drug dealing (all staples of action films)
If one is to enjoy this film, the lack of surprises and interesting plot twists will have to be forgiven. And one's attention will have to be focused solely on the characters, as without a plot to hook the audience, the actors are responsible for keeping the film jumping. A Man Apart is a good example of a mediocre action film that will satisfy fans of the genre but not impress the movie going public at large. People who enjoy performances from Diesel, Tate, and the co-stars will be impressed at the dramatic goings-on of the characters in Apart, but new fans will have a hard time adding this film to their list of favorites.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.