Posted: 04/07/2003


A Man Apart


by Chris Wood

Vin’s searching for that one role that will set him apart. This ain’t it.

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

There is a small verbal altercation between Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel, XXX), Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate, Biker Boyz) and Mexican police about the bringing in of weapons to a raid in Mexico. Vetter and Hicks are at the border with the rest of their D.E.A. team, anxiously awaiting an incursion into Tijuana, Mexico to bring down a heavy hitting drug cartel. Their anxiousness is represented by the seven years they have been chasing after Meno Luceno (Geno Silva, Mulholland Dr.). The argument is subdued after a fellow agent sneaks Vetter and Hicks guns for the raid.

Vetter and Hicks are a couple of “get the job done” types who grew up on the streets and have now made a choice to help instead of hurt their community. They and the rest of their posse are trying to clean up the streets from the biggest illegal business in the U.S. Vetter expresses the sheer size of the drug business, via monologue, in the very beginning of the movie by stating that there is enough cocaine smuggled into the U.S. for each man, woman and child to snort a line (that’s alotta coca).

Following the raid, and a fast paced chase between Vetter and Luceno (a.k.a. “big drug meanie guy”) down the busy streets of Tijuana, Vetter asks his boss for permission to go see his wife—in a sarcastic manner. We meet the lovely Mrs. Vetter (Jacqueline Obradors, Tortilla Soup, TV’s NYPD Blue) as she is making scented candles at the Vetter household, located right near the beach. Vetter, the sneaky romantic that he is, phones her from just outside their abode and pretends that he is still away. Then, after she figures out where he is, she runs into his arms and we feel the love.

The team takes a much-needed break after the raid and party-hardy at Vetter’s beachfront property while we get to know the characters a bit better. One character, named Big Sexy (George Sharperson, Double Take) is actually an assumed gang-banger/drug dealer who is buddies with Vetter and Hicks, and proves to be a worthy friend and informant to the duo on more than one occasion.

That evening, the Vetter’s are peacefully sleeping when a team of unknown assassins tries to kill the couple. Sean, as we discover, is a very light sleeper and hears the sliding glass door open, yells for his wife to get down, and grabs the all purpose hand gun from the night stand, opening fire post haste. After he takes out the small team, the one remaining man, dying on his patio exclaims, “Diablo,” with his last breath. Vetter kept yelling back, “What’d you say?” (I wanted to tell Vetter that he said, “Diablo,” but I didn’t think he would hear me being that he is not real, only a projection on a screen.)

When Vetter, who was wounded during the attempt on his life, goes to see if his wife is all right, he is taken aback to find that she was hit with a fatal wound. He struggles to call 911 then blacks out during the call.

Vetter regains consciousness in a hospital bed with lots of tubes sticking in him. He asks where his wife is and his buddy Hicks breaks the news. Vin, as Vetter’s reaction to this news is a noteworthy acting scene and quite powerful as Vetter shakes and haphazardly tries to remove himself from the bed. His response represented helplessness more than rage. Most would probably expect the Brando “Stella!” exclamation from Vin about his character’s loss, but he took a different approach which worked quite nicely (kudos Mr. Diesel).

The movie now switches speeds to Vetter’s small monster of revenge building in the pit of his stomach. Like a rabid dog frothing at the mouth, each step closer to finding the truth drives Vetter to be, A Man Apart. (what a segue!)

Unfortunately, the story is one that has been done many times before. But that is not why this movie will cease to inspire other critics and moviegoers to praise this picture with accolades. Feelings from yours truly have it to do with the very small introduction of Vetter’s wife. We don’t know her background, and since she gets killed fairly early in the movie we don’t feel the same about wanting revenge as Vetter does. Either she should have been more involved and killed at a later point in the movie, or her spirit should haunt Vetter throughout, reminding audiences of her presence. Even more simply, the Vetter’s could have looked through an old photo album of the two on the eve of her death, giving the audience more history about them.

There is a twist in the plot to find who Diablo is, which takes Vetter, Hicks, and Big Sexy on a gun wielding romp through a bar, and then on to Mexico to track Diablo to his supposed lair, but it still does not substitute for the lack of character depiction in Vetter’s wife. Good action and a handful of one-liners keep this one afloat, but not much more. Diesel is a good actor, but seems to be getting the Sly Stallone, action hero tattoo. I guess being able to play one type of character very well is better than none at all.

Chris Wood tried lifting weights once, but found them to be heavy and arduously repetitive.

Got a problem? E-mail us at