Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

One Bad Goody

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

One Bad Goody

Article excerpt


A MAN APART X Cert 18, 110 mins

AMAN Apart was made before xXx turned Vin Diesel into an international big-hitter. But you can see how he was already heading that way. It is a film in the new "extreme" style of violence whose exponents have each to be beastlier, more brutal and nihilistic to compete for box-office attention.

Had our censors refused to pass this sample of social pornography, I wouldn't have blamed them: I shall blame them if they let the trickle it currently represents turn into an overwhelming torrent at a time when society outside the cinema desperately needs to feel that its fears are being addressed, not exploited.

Like Cradle 2 the Grave last week, A Man Apart has a hero whom you can barely tell apart from the perpetrators. He is as brutal as they are. He doesn't confuse justice with lawlessness; he simply makes no distinction between the two. And as for the value of human life, it is just throwaway effects stuff: one minute there, then dismembered for ever with the roar of the Uzi or Magnum, and no tears shed.

When the police chief says to the stressed-out Vin, a DEA undercover operative, "You need time to grieve", it's the phoniest line in a plot that conflates a drugs war with a widower's vengeance and gets the maximum amount of blood-spilling, broken bodies and pornographic slaughter out of both.

Its proponents are either African-Americans or half-caste Mexicans. Its sole illustration of civic virtue is to show how bonding with his fellow blacks in South Central LA equips a guy like Vin to scorn police rules and break international law when the DEA Swat squad illegally crosses the border to pump lead into Tijuana's biggest drugs cartel and then prematurely crows about closing the pipeline to the US ("the greatest drugs-consuming nation on earth"). …

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