Special agent Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) never leaves home without his gun. His job consists of getting inside illegal arms deals and busting the gunrunners during the exchange. Vann’s latest assignment hits close to home, however, when his partner is murdered, found lying on the side of the highway, a .45 mm bullet in his chest. It is then discovered that the partner was actually a dirty cop, playing both sides and helping the gunrunner smuggle weapons in and out of Detroit. When he became a liability, he was done in. That same night, an arsenal of weapons was stolen from a warehouse in Detroit. Vann is determined to get on the inside of the deal and then bust the guys who killed his partner.
Posing as an interested buyer, Vann sets up a location to meet with the smugglers, where he will be given a “taste” of the merchandise and a cell phone where the two sides will communicate. He is told to meet them in a quiet coffee shop, with a USA Today in hand.
Andy Fidler (Eugene Wilson) never leaves home without his toothbrush. A quiet, mellow dental products salesman, Fidler goes through life optimistically and happily, without a care in the world. And when he is called to give a speech at a national dental salesmen clinic in Detroit, he happily obliges. But after arriving in the Motor City, it all goes wrong. While enjoying the USA Today at a local coffee shop, a strange man pushes a brown bag towards him, tells him to taste it and to wait for a phone call. In the bag is a cell phone and, to Fidler’s horror, a gun.
Vann cannot find a USA Today. The newspaper bin is already out of them, so he steals one from a passerby, and rushing towards the coffee shop, hears a commotion. He enters the cafe to see a man holding a gun, waving it wildly around.
Fidler accidentally ends up holding up the coffee shop, and Vann apprehends him fairly easily (Fidler puts a hole in the ceiling before resigning to the scary cop and puts the gun down). Vann then realizes there has been a case of mistaken identity, and that the gunrunners think this overly nice dental salesman is him.
Vann is convinced the only way to pull off the bust is to make the smugglers think Fidler is him. What follows is a humorous attempt by Vann to pull off the bust while using Fidler as the supposed buyer.
The plot of The Man is overly confusing and hard to follow. Characters are introduced and never developed. And though Eugene Wilson pulls off the part of a naive and inept dental products salesman, Samuel L. Jackson fails miserably.
Jackson’s character is supposed to be a hardened, slightly dirty cop, but it comes off corny and unoriginal. Vann swears constantly, and most of the cursing is done in awkward spots where it does not fit. It seems as if the director wanted to simply put swear words in the movie just for the sake of littering the plot with them. Jackson’s dialogue is also filled with overused clichés and unconvincing threats towards others.
A major plot line, which includes Vann being watched and followed by the I.A. (Internal Affairs) Agency, is never developed, but they end up saving Fidler and Vann’s skin in the end. The movie ends abruptly and awkwardly, and the final scene leaves a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth (Vann, supposedly having cured his foul mouth, yells to
Fidler, calling him a derogatory term as the credits roll).
Overall, The Man may be the early favorite to win the Razzy for worst picture this year. Samuel L. Jackson, though brilliant in action movies such as Pulp Fiction, falls far short in this one. The only bright part of the movie is Eugene Wilson’s character, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s probably his real personality anyway. I am tempted to give this stinker a negative rating, but I’ll be merciful and give it one star.
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