Here Is the List of Top 7 Vin Diesel Movies
Vin Diesel has carved out a niche for himself in his film career, playing macho good guys, macho bad guys, and tiny little tree children who dance in flowerpots. He’s got a certain look, but he also has range and has created a slew of unlikely franchises that have lasted for years.
Dudes in sports cars stealing a slew of VCRs? A genetically enhanced criminal warrior with the ability to see in total darkness? A government-hired extreme sports enthusiast to combat crime?
What to do with all of these films and gravelly-voiced performances? We do what we do best: we pick the best ones and rank them. Before all of you Saving Private Ryan fans get too worked up, let me clarify that this is not a ranking of movie quality. Rather, it’s intended to rank them based on their Vin Diesel factor.
There’s a Vin Diesel movie and then there’s a movie with Vin Diesel in it, providing a few lines of voice acting or a single-scene cameo to films that don’t actually star him. So, here are my criteria for compiling this list: Is the film good? Is Vin Diesel a good fit for it? If the answer to both questions was yes, it was added to the list.
Brian Koppelman and David Levien’s first collaboration was a far cry from their fantastic Showtime series Billions, both in terms of subject matter and quality.
Knockaround Guys is a rote gangster black comedy about the son (Barry Pepper) of a Brooklyn mobster (Dennis Hopper) who is determined to prove himself to his Godfather-like father by running a money delivery job on his own with the help of a few buddies (Vin Diesel plays their bellicose heavy).
When the job goes horribly wrong, they end up bumming around Billings, Montana, matching wits with flannel-clad local tough guys and airport baggage employees who stole their score.
Diesel’s character Taylor Reese (whose Jewishness is indicated by his Star of David chain and matching biceps tattoo) delivers two lengthy speeches, once in a diner about finding and beating up “the toughest guy here,” and again right before beating up said guy, in which he declares: “Five hundred street fights and you can consider yourself a legitimate tough guy.” It’s the kind of film where the fact that no one says “capiche” is an accomplishment. Koppelman appears as “Animatronic Cowboy” in the credits.
It doesn’t get much more Vin Diesel than a film written, produced, directed, and starring the man himself. Strays, Diesel’s directorial and feature film debut, begins with a narrator from Diesel’s character Rick, a drug-dealing “stray” surrounded by toxic sex-crazed machismo and fed up with his down-and-out hustling life, explaining that his favorite book is Ferdinand, a children’s picture book about a peace-loving bull.
Rick lives in a small New York City apartment with three of his friends, wearing his traditional white tank top and chain, selling weed to make ends meet and reluctantly partying his nights away till he meets Heather (Suzanne Lanza), the literal girl next door, and decides to seduce her by fixing himself up.
“I’m probably one of the city’s most misjudged, misread guys,” he says at one point, after softly singing the Tin Man’s song from The Wizard of Oz. Strays isn’t a particularly good film, but it’s a fascinating look at Vin Diesel himself, as it’s partly based on his own coming-of-age and feels like an actor caught between how he presents himself outwardly (bulky, intimidating, harsh) and how he’d rather be perceived (the opposite of all of that).
It took five films for the Fast and Furious franchise to throw Dominic Toretto off a bridge in a convertible. In its first ten minutes, Rob Cohen’s “xXx” accomplished the same thing.
What seemed like a clumsy attempt at co-opting youth culture in 2002 — Xander Cage is both an extreme athlete and an underground video icon! — now feels like an essential chapter in action-movie cinema in 2021, given how clearly it defines Diesel’s on-screen persona.
After all, in its more self-indulgent moments, “xXx” helped pave the way for Diesel’s more-is-more approach in the Fast and Furious franchise.
To be fair, “xXx” struggles for about 20 minutes to deliver on its promise of an X Games-style thriller. However, once Diesel’s character becomes immersed in the world of global terrorism and souped-up cars, “xXx” unleashes the same over-the-top, superhero energy that characterizes so much of Diesel’s work.
Despite the fact that Diesel opted out of the second film in the series, allowing Ice Cube to star in the underwhelming “xXx: State of the Union,” “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” demonstrates that the star is not afraid to bet on himself. More is undoubtedly on the way: Diesel and his production company purchased the “xXx” franchise rights in 2018.
A Man Apart
There have been cop movies for as long as there have been cop movies about cops taking the law into their own hands. “A Man Apart” is a serviceable thriller that allows Diesel to combine his action star prowess with some more substantial dramatic work.
Diesel is more than game; as Sean Vetter, a DEA agent on the verge of self-destruction, the actor amps up the cynicism. Diesel delivers a shell-shocked performance in the process, elevating an otherwise pedestrian B-movie thriller about a Mexican cartel.
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Despite the fact that “A Man Apart” is only a mediocre film, it marks a watershed moment in the Diesel Cinematic Universe. This was Diesel’s first collaboration with director F. Gary Gray, who later directed “The Fate of the Furious” and continues to develop projects with Diesel.
If, as Diesel’s career suggests, understanding Diesel as a producer is necessary to truly understanding Diesel as a performer, then “A Man Apart” was a significant step forward for Diesel as his behind-the-scenes influence began to grow.
The stock market is one of the most prevalent topics in our films, which probably says something about America. “Wall Street,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Big Short,” and “Margin Call” are all in-depth examinations of a system designed to help those with money make even more money. “Boiler Room,” a crime thriller about the fictitious brokerage firm J.T. Marlin, belongs among the greats.
If “Boiler Room” teaches us anything, it’s that Diesel’s tough exterior is always undercut by empathy lurking just beneath the surface. We are certain that the majority of the “Boiler Room” characters are men who idolize “Wall Street,” completely missing the film’s satire.
However, in the final minutes of the film, Diesel’s senior broker decides to return money to a struggling client. His ruthless exterior cannot withstand an opportunity to do the right thing. Diesel once again demonstrates that his true star power comes from playing the toughest of teddy bears.
The film is also significant in Diesel’s post-“Saving Private Ryan” career: Diesel, like in “Knockaround Guys,” plays against a former “Saving Private Ryan” co-star (in this case, Giovanni Ribisi) in “Boiler Room,” cementing his status as a Hollywood rising star.
Vin Diesel, as an unapologetic nerd who appears to spend the majority of his free time collecting action franchises, was almost certainly destined to star in a comic book adaptation.
“Bloodshot,” David S. F. Wilson’s adaptation of the popular Valiant Comics title, pits an unstoppable, undead super-soldier against another evil conglomerate with paramilitary goals. The fight scenes alone are worth seeing, but “Bloodshot” should have a special place in the hearts of action fans thanks to its creatively staged — and even more creatively lit — underground fight sequence (please, more reds and blues in action sequences!).
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“Bloodshot” also represents a slight departure for Diesel, who usually prefers characters with a clear moral code. Diesel goes against type in “Bloodshot” by making his character more “Memento” than Toretto.
It’s also worth noting that “Bloodshot” was one of the last films to hit theaters before the 2020 pandemic, making it the last wide release that many moviegoers got to see. In a world where most superhero movies are cut from the same cloth, it’s refreshing to know we paused with something a little different.
Every aspiring tough guy must play the lead in a children’s film, it’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the star of “Kindergarten Cop.” “Tooth Fairy” belongs to Dwayne Johnson. In 2020’s “My Spy,” Dave Bautista — he of the giant muscles and tiny glasses — showed off his soft side.
So it’s natural for a young Diesel to star in a film like “The Pacifier,” in which he plays a Navy SEAL tasked with protecting the family of an American scientist. The only distinction? Unlike the other films mentioned above, this one works.
Much of this is due to the work of writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, who also co-created “Reno 911!” Their script focuses on the kids, eschewing awkward, adult-oriented fish-out-of-water gags in favor of a genuine bond between Diesel’s Shane Wolfe and his new charges.
As a result, the film contains genuine moments of empathy, particularly when Wolfe is tasked with directing a community theater production of “The Sound of Music.” The way “The Pacifier” sets this up — with a neo-Nazi fake out that borders on inappropriate — is almost entirely worth the price of admission.