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Movie Review

Former gangbangers make the best DEA agents in A Man Apart, an explosive, if utterly predictable drug cartel shoot-‘em-up. Sean Vetter has been on the right side of the law for quite a few years when he becomes a hero for taking down the head of Mexico’s biggest drug-running operation. The bad guy goes to jail and Sean goes on with his life ... until gangsters retaliate by bursting into his bedroom and strafing the place. Sean’s wife, Stacy, dies. He lands in the hospital. When he gets out he’s only got one thing on his mind: revenge. At first he works with his superiors to penetrate even deeper into the convoluted web hiding his assailants. They’re not on the same mission he is, though, so he goes on alone, laying down his badge and hunting for the blood that will smother his grief.

positive elements: Sean’s relationship with his wife is healthy and happy. He improperly channels his anguish over her death, but the deep grief he feels is a testimony to their love. Even after she’s gone, Sean remains faithful to her memory, refusing the advances of an exotic dancer. Sean’s partner, Demetrius, expresses concern that his young daughter is learning profanity and violent "moves" from hanging out with him and his buddies.

spiritual content: A drug lord (called Diablo) uses a Bible to conceal a note that he gives to Sean.

nudity and sexual content: Strippers and call girls wear next to nothing in several scenes. One is seen dancing topless. Others wear see-through tops and g-strings. A man fondles one dancer’s bare bottom and places his hands on her barely-clothed breasts. Two women dance together. Others wear bikinis at the beach. Guys make crude, demeaning comments about women and sexual acts. Nude paintings are displayed in two homes. Wearing only thong panties, a stripper perches on Sean’s lap (he rebuffs her, telling her to "have some respect" for herself, a comment that inspires another man to ask if he is a "faggot").

violent content: Numerous shots of dead bodies and of live ones being killed. To display brutal, gratuitous violence is pretty much the only reason this movie exists. The body count rises quickly and never stops going up. Sean beats one man to a bloody pulp after learning he had something to do with Stacy’s death. (Afterwards, he carefully wipes the man’s blood from his wedding ring.) Extended machine-gun battles leave a war-film feeling. One of them happens in a parking lot. Another in a nightclub. Another on the street. Etcetera. When a thug tries to cut Sean’s eyes out, he succeeds in slashing his forehead. Point-blank, remorseless killings are sickeningly commonplace. Sean finds a dead man who has words of warning carved into his back. A woman is shot, then run over. Cars explode and catch fire (with their occupants trapped inside). One such assassination kills a mother and young child. To make a man talk, Sean plays roulette with his pistol, squeezing the trigger on empty chambers until the man begins to cry. Later, he digs a hole in the ground and threatens to bury a man alive if he won’t cooperate.

crude or profane language: In a movie this vulgar, excessive profanity doesn’t even seem that out of place. (Something that speaks volumes all by itself.) Nearly 100 f-words (10 or so used with "mother"; several used to denote sexual acts) are joined by about 20 s-words, 25 milder profanities and a half-dozen abuses of Jesus’ and God’s names. Harsh racial epithets are hurled and there are several uses of an obscene expression for fellatio.

drug and alcohol content: The opening credits depict workers cutting cocaine, getting it ready for shipment. No one is seen using the drug, but the substance is the central focus of the film, nonetheless. The white powder is found in a car trunk, transported across the border, etc. Marijuana is smoked, as are cigarettes (Sean smokes the latter incessantly). Beer, wine and hard liquor make frequent appearances. Sean drinks to dull his emotional pain after his wife’s murder.

conclusion:"Shoot somebody ... quick. Anybody will do, just squeeze off a few rounds before somebody notices that our movie has a plot no thicker than a McDonald’s Jr. Cheeseburger." That must be what these characters are thinking. If A Man Apart was trying to be like Traffic, it failed to inject anything of that movie’s poignancy. It just repeated its brutality for the fun of it. The bad guys are bad. The good guys are bad. Revenge is deemed as good a reason as any for murder. "In the beginning of the film Sean is the protagonist, you root for him," star Vin Diesel says, "but by the second half he’s converted. So much so that he almost becomes the thing he’s fighting." Onscreen, the cartel boss says that to "bring down a monster, you have to become a monster." So there, in a shell casing, is this movie’s "moral." My words for those wanting to indulge in A Man Apart are the same ones Sean aimed at the unnamed stripper: "Have some respect for yourself."


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