Stop me if you've heard this one: A hard-bitten lawman manages to take down a vicious drug kingpin. The vanquished crook (of course Latino) vows revenge as he's taken away. The lawman smiles, goes back to his normal life, and then the bad guys kill his wife! The lawman goes after the bad guy, but he's stymied by the very law he's sworn to uphold. Let's all say it together: "Now it's personal!"
Vin Diesel tried to be James Bond in xXx; now he's trying to be Dirty Harry in A Man Apart. But his character's a dumbass.
The movie kicks off with Vin's character, Sean Vetter, telling us in voice-over that, essentially, Mexico sucks and is full of drug dealers, but most of their customers live in the U.S. This would explain why the DEA, of which Sean is a member, and the Mexican police are teaming up to take down Memo Lucero (Geno Silva of Scarface, one of this movie's explicit inspirations). The lawmen wear masks that only cover the lower half of their faces. Thus, Sean's shaved head and glazed eyes remain exposed and easily identified. Ditto the cornrows of his partner Demetrius (Larenz Tate). What, they couldn't afford hats?
Sean soon tells us, via voice-over once more, that he's not your typical cop: He doesn't look or act like one, and doesn't even hang out with them. None of which explains why he shows up in plainclothes to high-five his partners at a police press conference, or holds a party at his house to which he invites all his colleagues in their official "DEA" logo caps. What it does explain, presumably, is how the bad guys find his house with ease and bust some shots off. Sean's wife (Jacqueline Obradors, with whom Diesel has zero chemistry) doesn't die immediately -- she gives a final monologue so distracting that it prevents Sean from uttering the simple word "ambulance" to the 911 operator he's just called. Yeah, better listen to your mortally wounded wife ramble on rather than demand medical attention that might just save her.
Sean mourns his wife by smoking and drinking from those tiny liquor bottles you find on airplanes. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure known only as Diablo is going around carving his initials in junkies' backs and starting up a brand-new cocaine cartel. This same Diablo is apparently the one behind the death of Sean's wife, as well as the death of the wife of the imprisoned Memo. Sean proceeds to meet Memo several times in prison to get cryptic advice, sort of like in The Silence of the Lambs, only not interesting. When he's not trying to be a big, dumb, bald-headed Jodie Foster, Sean keeps busy by shooting drug dealers, threatening to shoot them, or beating them to bloody pulps. One or two scenes really are entertaining; they only serve to get your hopes up needlessly.