Remove the crazy stunts, corny jokes, and exotic locales from XXX and you’re left with…one giant blockhead. With A Man Apart, it’s become apparent that Vin Diesel needs Xtreme conditions to emerge the hero, and this boring revenge story takes itself way too seriously to provide them. Diesel is Sean Vetter, one of a drug-busting team of rogue cops who “had an edge from growing up on the streets” and were therefore—yawn—”the best.” When Sean’s wife is killed by the cohorts of an incarcerated coke king seeking vengeance, Sean falls, um, apart and seeks a little revenge of his own. A small problem with A Man Apart is that the plot is somewhat obscured by the enforcement team’s attempts to figure out the identity of one Diablo, a mysterioso who immediately took over a Mexican cartel after its leader got caught. This leads to the introduction of equally uninteresting characters and lotsa meaningless gunplay. Former music-video director F. Gary Gray keeps things dark and chaotic, piecing together the rat-tat-tat action scenes with such quick cuts that you forget about the holes in the narrative (though the end is confounding enough to reawaken your What the hell? reflex). The larger problem is Diesel himself: Green scriptwriters Christian Gudegast and Paul T. Scheuring knew better than to try to wrest poetry out of their leading ape, so they kept their hero’s angst largely internal—yet you can show the Sean-looking-out-into-the-ocean scene only so many times before it becomes laughable. The moment Sean emerges from a coma to hear of Stacy’s death is heartbreaking, and his discovery of her murderer is full of angry passion. But between these episodes—during which Diesel basically flops around a lot—there’s little holding this Man together. —Tricia Olszewski

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