Vin Diesel says early on that “they didn’t look like cops, they didn’t act like cops.” Maybe he just should have said, “we didn’t act period.”
The biggest flaw of the movie is that too many characters are introduced early on. Unlike previous drug related movies such as Traffic, Scarface, and Up in Smoke, the story line is too muddled. And when one of these characters is finally eliminated from the plot, it has to be Diesel’s wife. There is a heavy emphasis on the affection Diesel and his wife share with each other. They pretty much go at it like rabbits in heat every time the two are on screen together. The other problem with the movie is that it takes too long for plot developments to occur. After Diesel’s wife’s death, it seems as if there’s 30 minutes of junk filler until the next major development.
At least if she has to die, its emotional. Diesel, who has just confronted a masked intruder, returns to his bedroom calling to her. He receives a shocking image: that of his bloody wife. Both pass out and the next thing we know, Sean is in the hospital. We later are informed that Stacey is dead. Diesel, looking much like the older portraits of Ernest Hemingway, begins to thrash violently until he realizes his actions are pointless. He eventually accepts his wife’s death and falls into a depression.
While family, friends and co-workers try to comfort him, their attempts are in vain. Diesel turns to alcohol and cigarettes, but those don’t do the job either. Looking for real answers, he goes to visit Memo (Geno Silva), one of the drug lords he put away. Still, there are no answers for Diesel here either, so next he turns to the one thing Vin Diesel does best … use guns. Lots of guns.
Over the remainder of the movie, Diesel and his DEA friends infiltrate the drug ring known as Diablo. Junkies shed some light on the mystery of who killed Diesel’s wife, but it isn’t until Memo’s family suffers a similar fate that Vin finds his answers. Memo tells Diesel that he needs to become a buyer in order to find the supply chain, and from there the fun begins. Case in point, the next scene starts with a close up on the backside of a stripper.
Comedy is interwoven throughout the entire movie, most notably when Diesel and his friends discuss the differences of men and women, and again when Diesel’s trio needs a drug sniffing dog. While Diesel and the audience are expecting something along the lines of a German Shepard, the dog turns out to be a Chihuahua.
The dialogue also leaves much to be desired. Don’t look for Shakespeare-esque gems here. Instead, dark and moody camera work does most of the talking. There’s a lot of visual imagery, including a shot where Diesel is left standing dazedly after a gun fight in the middle of a painted eye, as if he finally sees what his life has come to.
All too often the tough guy shtick comes on too strong. The writers don’t help any either, having characters use street slang and pseudo police terms that end up adding to the confusion of the movie, instead of adding to the plot. You’ll probably leave the theater like I did — confused. The movie doesn’t have enough action scenes to be called an action film, not enough cheap laughs to be a comedy, and not enough sex to be a porno. In the end, I too was like Vin, a man apart. Only I was a man apart-ed from his money. What a waste of six bucks.
Archived article by Matt Janiga