A man: celebrity bullet-head Vin Diesel. A part: DEA special-ops bullet-head Sean Vetter. A plot: After Vetter nabs a major kingpin, a mysterious new underworld force murders his wife. A movie: sour, sadistic, and stale from sitting on the shelf since the pre-”XXX” era – an era I’m starting to miss.
Diesel is one of those less-than-meets-the-eye actors who goes increasingly out of focus the more the camera fixates on him. Armed with muddy enunciation and a dull glare that bespeaks badass catalepsy, he doesn’t seem capable of more than two levels: sulk and smash. He’s supposed to come off as the Fred Flintstone of the narcotics interdiction biz, an average Joe Widower whose undercover work seemingly necessitates close proximity to strippers (all lovingly photographed) – but who bristles when a girl offers him a lap dance. (”You should have more respect for yourself,” he growls, as Hollywood hypocrisy touches bottom.) Shorn of his Wilma, has Vetter gone off the deep end? Is he a good cop? A bad cop? Or just bad at being a cop? (Dispiritingly, it’s the latter: His vengeful thug tactics cost a lot of lives, and for no apparent gain.)
In the end, it’s not important. ”Man” is a threadbare hand-me-down of an action thriller – even its obligatory twists feel preworn. You won’t know who to trust. And you won’t care.