He turned down The Fast And The Furious 2. He wouldn't commit to Pitch Black 2 'til he was 100 percent happy with the screenplay. Vin Diesel, tottering on the edge of blockbuster domination, is not a man to make script choices lightly. So why the hell did he agree to A Man Apart, an ugly hybrid of Traffic and Death Wish?
Because he made it before The Fast And The Furious and xXx - before he was a star, in fact. It was then called El Diablo (and, for a time, This Man's Dominion), and wasn't considered worthy of a release... Until Vin was heralded as the nu-Arnie. Then, wouldn't you know it, a new title was slapped in place and, hey presto, it appears on our screens.
Diesel plays Sean Vetter, a no-nonsense DEA agent who successfully arrests a major drug kingpin only for another - the mysterious Diablo - to immediately take his place. In fact, things are now 10 times worse, Diablo orchestrating a brutal hit on Vetter's home and killing his beloved wife. Tears streaming down his stubbled cheeks, the big man swears he'll get his revenge... Whatever it takes.
To be fair, A Man Apart isn't all bad. Squint past the filtered colours and ignore the obligatory thumping soundtrack and you'll see Vin relaxing his muscles and showcasing his thesping abilities. He's not bad, either, as anyone who's seen Boiler Room can testify. But the real shock isn't seeing Mr Granite sob while delivering impassioned speeches - it's seeing him dance.
But, a drug-sniffing comic chihuahua aside, that's your lot. This is the kind of movie that action stars make on their way up or on their way down, the sort of heavy-handed, heavy-edited guff that's indistinguishable from 100 other actioners. Most of them languishing on the bottom shelf of Blockbuster. Give Vin Diesel a break and give the movie a miss - Riddick, the Pitch Black sequel, will be out in 2004, after all.
One for Vin Diesel headcases only, this long-shelved action-thriller is well past its sell-by date. There's nothing here you haven't seen before - except Vin shuffling on the dance floor, maybe.