Directed by F. Gary Gray, starring Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Jacqueline Obradors, Geno Silva, Juan Fernandez and Steve Eastin.

With Arnie sweating on the upcoming 'T3', Stallone reduced to straight-to-video drivel and Bruce Willis' 'Die Hard 4' not due until next year, Vin Diesel is being primed to fill the action man role which provides the stable diet of many a movie fan. Up to this, it seems to be working. 'The Fast and the Furious' (2001) and 'XXX' (2002) both did stout business at the box office, and Diesel's salary has allegedly topped the $20m mark for 'XXX2', slated for 2004.

Here, Diesel is Sean Vetter, a tough-talking, hard-hitting DEA agent on the streets of Los Angeles. Along with childhood chum Demetrius (Tate) - another street boy on the right side of the law - Vetter is prized as one of the DEA's finest. He also becomes one of their angriest when his wife is killed following an ostensibly successful sting in Mexico to remove notorious drug baron, Memo Lucero (Silva).

It seems a mysterious figure - known only as 'Diablo' - has taken over the void filled by Memo's capture. Vetter's mission to hunt down the new drug lord in town (well, in Tijuana to be precise) now takes on extra significance as he sets out on a vendetta to avenge his sweetheart's murder. Riveting.

It's hard to work out why all the fuss about Diesel. As tough guys go he's fine, but something this uninspired needs someone that can lift the tempo. And it's a feat well beyond him. But then again, maybe it's laudable that he knows his limits and chooses well within them.

'A Man Apart' is predictable and routine in the extreme. Director Gray handles the set-pieces solidly, but even action film fans will be forced to admit that this doesn't break the mould. There is lots of shooting, there is plenty of fighting and some motherf****** bad language. Hardly novel.

If you want a quality drugs/cops flick, avoid this and wait for something like the vastly superior 'Narc' to appear in video stores. Let's just hope 'T3' and 'Die Hard 4' deliver.

Tom Grealis