The Man

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It should have been a match made in odd-couple heaven: Samuel L Jackson’s cocky, smooth-swearing hard-ass (undercover federal agent Derrick Vann) figuratively cuffed to Eugene Levy’s cringe-makingly awkward but well-intentioned nebbish (Andy Fidler, inadvertently embroiled in Vann’s sting operation against a slick arms dealer played by Luke Goss). And things start promisingly enough with an opening scene of note-perfect pastiche, its every element skewering the myriad laughable clichés of godawful renegade cop flicks (‘I’m not finished with you,’ Vann’s captain snaps. ‘Well, I’m finished with you,’ he growls back before storming out). Then you realise it’s not pastiche.Unusually lazy even for a buddy comedy cop thriller, ‘The Man’s’ off-the-peg script offers only one, maybe two scenes that successfully mine the potential of its stars’ clashing personae: seeing Jackson obliged to identify himself as Levy’s bitch is pretty funny, but otherwise he’s on autopilot – all narrowed eyes and raised voice (and looking a bit ropey to boot). And, despite his gawkiness, Andy is too self-assured to allow Levy to display much range. There’s a clumsily off-kilter feel to the action – scenes seem truncated, gags are left hanging – and the direction is banal when it isn’t slapdash. Offering a running tonal tussle between sadism and sentimentality – an odd couple with as little appeal as its central characters – this can only count as a waste of everyone’s time and money. At least they saved on the effort.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday September 9 2005
Duration: 83 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Les Mayfield
Screenwriter: Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman, Steve Carpenter
Cast: Samuel L Jackson
Eugene Levy
Miguel Ferrer
Luke Goss
Anthony Mackie
Susie Essman
Horatio Sans
Rachael Crawford
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