Picks and Pans Review: A Man Apart

updated 04/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/14/2003 01:00AM

Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate

Following last summer's steroidal spy fantasy XXX, Diesel tries a more complex action figure, the sort of brooding powder keg Bruce Willis plays with such wounded, thin-lipped machismo. In A Man Apart, drug-enforcement agent Diesel brings down a Mexican cartel, then sets out on a course of revenge after his wife is killed in a bloody vendetta. The role requires Diesel to dramatize a clearly defined emotional arc, starting with numbed grief, boiling up to pulverizing rage and then simmering down to a manly sort of inner peace. (You may have experienced something along the same lines trying to change a tire.) But Diesel just keeps coming up dry, like some enormous rig drilling holes all over an oil-depleted desert. Diesel is a mere physical presence here, a hard, rugged mountain range of pecs and triceps fitted into a tight tee. He'd have made a great Are You Hot? contestant. (R)

BOTTOM LINE: Not enough acting fuel

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