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The Good, The Bad and The Badass: Vin Diesel

03.30.2015
Last week, we took a look at the career of master comedian Steve Martin. This week's badass is a whole new ballgame, being the star of one of the most strangely enduring franchises of the last twenty years.
Vin Diesel

Remember, about seven years ago, when it seemed Vin Diesel's career was just about over? His run as an action hero launched with 2000's sleeper hit PITCH BLACK, and the massive breakout success of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS had people pegging him as the next Sylvester Stallone. From there, he went on to XXX, which was supposed to be his crowning glory as the new action god, but then – strangely – things fizzled. His CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK was an attempt by him to move into the fantasy genre playing a character he loved, but in hindsight it seems like a major miscalculation and he wound up losing the two franchises that should have put him on top, with 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS focusing on Paul Walker's character, while XXX: STATE OF THE UNION was disastrously recast with Ice Cube (how did anyone think that was a good idea?) with the producers even using a lame DVD bonus feature to kill off Xander Cage, the guy who was supposed to be the 21st century Bond (a mantle that was first taken up by Matt Damon's Jason Bourne, and then reclaimed by the real McCoy with Daniel Craig).

Diesel did have a huge hit with THE PACIFIER, but it turned off the hardcore action audience he had been building. From there, he went on to do the disastrous BABYLON A.D, and his return to the part of Dominic Toretto with FAST & FURIOUS seemed like a desperate attempt to relaunch his career. Well, whatever it was, it certainly worked as the film went on to gross close to $400 million worldwide (noteworthy as the franchise was never popular internationally before that). From there, director Justin Lin and Universal re-branded the saga into a multi-billion dollar mega-action franchise, and Diesel's arguably bigger than he's ever been, with FURIOUS 7 (only marred by the passing of co-star Paul Walker) looking like it'll be one of the year's biggest worldwide hits. How big is Diesel these days? He's so big that it looks now like he'll even get another shot at XXX. Truly the man is riding a wave.

His Best Film

Many of you may be expecting me to list one of the FAST & FURIOUS movies, but while they're a whole lot of fun, they're not Diesel's absolute best. For live action Vin, I'd have to say SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, even though his Pvt. Caparzo is far from the lead. He has some great scenes, particularly his tragic death at the hands of a sniper. As far as Diesel as a lead, I give the edge to Brad Bird's THE IRON GIANT. While, yes, it's only his voice, I'd argue Diesel's as much of a factor in that film's success as he is in the FAST & FURIOUS movies. This one was shamefully under-seen back in '99, but now it's rightfully regarded as a classic. I'd wager Diesel's voice work here also helped him land the part of Groot in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (not listed in my top five as I count the part as a cameo).

His Most Underrated Film

One movie of Diesel's that's really solid is Sidney Lumet's FIND ME GUILTY. It barely got a release, but this based-on-fact gangster movie is ultra solid. Diesel – sporting a wig and a gut – is really good as a mobster trying not to rat on his buddies. FIND ME GUILTY also has a gem of a part for Peter Dinklage as his lawyer. If this one has flown under-your-radar, give it a try.

His Most Overrated Film

There are a few Vin Diesel movies that – to me anyway – are overrated. Fact is, I was never a real fan of his until FAST FIVE. I liked PITCH BLACK and even CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK (I despised RIDDICK), but otherwise, I always thought the original THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS was not much more than a POINT BREAK rip-off. That said, I respect how it led to better things. However, XXX is a movie that – thirteen years after it hit theaters – is pretty much unwatchable. The action scenes, which were supposed to be cutting edge, are a mess. The CGI is cartoonish. The dialogue – atrocious. And Diesel's hyper-macho posturing is uncool to say the least (legit tough guys never have to do any posing). Even worse is his total lack of chemistry with Asia Argento, with the two of them sharing – arguably – the most uncomfortable kiss in screen history. Hopefully, if they do a sequel, they'll take a page from the FAST AND FURIOUS movies, although in a way that series has become the very thing they originally wanted XXX to be.

His Most Memorable Scene

For me, Diesel really came into his own as an action hero with FAST FIVE, with his surprisingly cool throw-down with Dwayne Johnson. I half expected them to do some XXX-shit with Diesel, making him wipe the floor with the hulking Johnson (who's easily the toughest guy in the whole series) but luckily they didn't go there.

His Five Best Films


5. FAST FIVE
4. FIND ME GUILTY
3. BOILER ROOM
2. THE IRON GIANT
1. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Up Next

This fall, Diesel's got THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, which is getting good buzz. After that, we'll presumably get at least a few more FAST & FURIOUS movies and possibly a XXX which – again – will hopefully be way better than its predecessor.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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1:12PM on 03/30/2015
Everyone knows from the movies Saving Private Ryan, Boiler Room & Iron Giant that Vin Diesel can act & he just seems to be an all around great guy, who loves his fans & making movies like the F&F ones. I agree that he doesn't need another XXX movie, he seems well above that by now.
Everyone knows from the movies Saving Private Ryan, Boiler Room & Iron Giant that Vin Diesel can act & he just seems to be an all around great guy, who loves his fans & making movies like the F&F ones. I agree that he doesn't need another XXX movie, he seems well above that by now.
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2:01PM on 03/30/2015
I heard through viable sources when Vin was in Pittsburgh to film Witch Hunter he was a jerk. Wouldn't sign autographs, would only go up and down from his suite in the hotel once the area was cleared. While around the same time Will Smith was actually very easy going, chatted on a elevator with any 'ol random Joe. Now I look at that at a couple ways. Vin, maybe has let his ego get the best of him or maybe that's just his method as he preps to get into character. One may never know. Wesley
I heard through viable sources when Vin was in Pittsburgh to film Witch Hunter he was a jerk. Wouldn't sign autographs, would only go up and down from his suite in the hotel once the area was cleared. While around the same time Will Smith was actually very easy going, chatted on a elevator with any 'ol random Joe. Now I look at that at a couple ways. Vin, maybe has let his ego get the best of him or maybe that's just his method as he preps to get into character. One may never know. Wesley Snipes apparently method-acted Blade for the entire shoot back in the day as does actors like Daniel Day Lewis. I find it hard to believe though Vin puts on a whole facade for his millions of facebook fans though.
I've said it before on this site. Pittsburgh has always been a town that isn't too "star stuck". Excited, sure, but in a place where Michael Keaton used to take his Mom to church (when he was Batman) and was treated like the Michael Douglas he really is says something about the respect our town tries to show. It's scary to say but it really is an educated town because for every Will Smith or Michael Keaton whom people will praise there's always a Sienna Miller who was on the news repeatedly when she filmed a movie here years ago and was on the news for trying to use her "star power" to act like an ass and publicly tiraded about to get special treatment...it wasn't taken to too kindly...rant over.
6:07PM on 03/30/2015
I remember when JoBlo went on the set of Fast Five to interview him, he was trying to stay in character so he didn't come off as very approachable. When he's doing the promotional circuit he seems super nice. Not to mention he's my second favorite Facebook celebrity after George Takei for his generosity with fans.
I remember when JoBlo went on the set of Fast Five to interview him, he was trying to stay in character so he didn't come off as very approachable. When he's doing the promotional circuit he seems super nice. Not to mention he's my second favorite Facebook celebrity after George Takei for his generosity with fans.
12:11PM on 03/30/2015
Vin has a pretty decent body of art. XXX was by far a misfire and while I couldn't stand the Pacifier as a Vin fan, I can sit through it multiple times a la The Game Plan with my kids. Knockaround was a very cool film, and he has the chops just from Boiler Room and Private Ryan along. Even in these big spectacle movies he brings a sense of humanity to most of his roles. I'm hoping Last Witch Hunter is good. Oh, and A Man Apart, vastly underrated performance in my opinion. Also, a young Timothy
Vin has a pretty decent body of art. XXX was by far a misfire and while I couldn't stand the Pacifier as a Vin fan, I can sit through it multiple times a la The Game Plan with my kids. Knockaround was a very cool film, and he has the chops just from Boiler Room and Private Ryan along. Even in these big spectacle movies he brings a sense of humanity to most of his roles. I'm hoping Last Witch Hunter is good. Oh, and A Man Apart, vastly underrated performance in my opinion. Also, a young Timothy Olyphant was a nice rival to Vin's Vetter...
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10:54AM on 03/30/2015
Knock Around Guys for me is his most underrated, he is a badass playing the muscle, especially when he gives his 500 fights speech and you see the dude who wants to take him on start to cower. XXX however, I thought was going to be bond for a new generation but his overacting, horrible chemistry, and pathetic looking stunts shown multiple times from various angles was just awful. The Fast and Furious made him a star in my eyes though because that movie hit at the right time as I too was
Knock Around Guys for me is his most underrated, he is a badass playing the muscle, especially when he gives his 500 fights speech and you see the dude who wants to take him on start to cower. XXX however, I thought was going to be bond for a new generation but his overacting, horrible chemistry, and pathetic looking stunts shown multiple times from various angles was just awful. The Fast and Furious made him a star in my eyes though because that movie hit at the right time as I too was involved in street racing for a season with some friends growing up in Las Vegas, yet you never refer to Nitrous Oxide as NOS, that is lame, but it didn't stop me from loving these movies and they have only gotten better. Can't wait for Friday; "Daddy's got to go to work" for real Johnson vs. Statham = price of admission.
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10:39AM on 03/30/2015
Always been a huge Vin fan.
Always been a huge Vin fan.
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10:31AM on 03/30/2015

bird is a genius.

I feel the same way about The Iron Giant. Gotta say it changed my perception of Diesel. Never been a fan of the Fast series but they do seem to be getting better the more they make. Never wanted to watch any of them, this new one though looks pretty cool.
I feel the same way about The Iron Giant. Gotta say it changed my perception of Diesel. Never been a fan of the Fast series but they do seem to be getting better the more they make. Never wanted to watch any of them, this new one though looks pretty cool.
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+1
9:05AM on 03/30/2015
Always interesting what makes one like a particular star...been a fan of Vin Diesel ever since Fast and the Furious - the first movie I saw in the US and that was an experience in itself. I'd already seen him in Pitch Black which was a total blast but F&F sealed the deal - been a fan ever since, both him and the movie/franchise...not to mention Walker too. I remember wanting to really like XXX, taking my wife with me...saying...you'll love this...it's the guy from F&F! Unfortunately, I
Always interesting what makes one like a particular star...been a fan of Vin Diesel ever since Fast and the Furious - the first movie I saw in the US and that was an experience in itself. I'd already seen him in Pitch Black which was a total blast but F&F sealed the deal - been a fan ever since, both him and the movie/franchise...not to mention Walker too. I remember wanting to really like XXX, taking my wife with me...saying...you'll love this...it's the guy from F&F! Unfortunately, I couldn't trick my mind in to thinking it was any good. Very happy he's doing so well for himself again. Incidentally, it's possible I saw him in Saving Private Ryan first...but for the life of me, I can't remember who he was in the movie.
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4:59AM on 03/30/2015
Badass indeed. I agree that Find Me Guilty is his most underrated movie. But I'd go with Pitch Black as his best movie. He IS Riddick. Other than that, Dom Toretto is his best shining moment. I do hope we'll get to see Vin Diesel in Fast 8 and so on but I highly doubt that.
Badass indeed. I agree that Find Me Guilty is his most underrated movie. But I'd go with Pitch Black as his best movie. He IS Riddick. Other than that, Dom Toretto is his best shining moment. I do hope we'll get to see Vin Diesel in Fast 8 and so on but I highly doubt that.
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2:58AM on 03/30/2015
Don't particularly disagree, and I hated Riddick too, just a remake, but NO mention of knock around guys? Even man apart?
Don't particularly disagree, and I hated Riddick too, just a remake, but NO mention of knock around guys? Even man apart?
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2:15AM on 03/30/2015
I too thought xXx was totally overrated and tried really hard to love it but i just couldn't get past the poorly set up action-sequences.

Also, am I the only one who enjoyed xXx: 2? I dunno, maybe Darius Stone's subtle deconstruction and jabs at the previous movie is what I found charming.

Another underrated Vin Diesel gem for me had to The Knockaround Guys. Sure, it was just a supporting role but Vin's performance had won me over.
I too thought xXx was totally overrated and tried really hard to love it but i just couldn't get past the poorly set up action-sequences.

Also, am I the only one who enjoyed xXx: 2? I dunno, maybe Darius Stone's subtle deconstruction and jabs at the previous movie is what I found charming.

Another underrated Vin Diesel gem for me had to The Knockaround Guys. Sure, it was just a supporting role but Vin's performance had won me over.
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1:12AM on 03/30/2015
Boiler Room, and Guardians of the Galaxy are my favorite films of his.
Boiler Room, and Guardians of the Galaxy are my favorite films of his.
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2:04AM on 03/30/2015
and also A Man Apart.
and also A Man Apart.
5:04AM on 03/30/2015
I totally forgot about Boiler Room. That's a great movie.
I totally forgot about Boiler Room. That's a great movie.
1:03AM on 03/30/2015
Why he would return to XXX, a franchise that no one seems to care about, is beyond me. I'm not a huge Vin fan but I hope his success continues and he goes on to play some more dynamic roles.
Why he would return to XXX, a franchise that no one seems to care about, is beyond me. I'm not a huge Vin fan but I hope his success continues and he goes on to play some more dynamic roles.
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