Friday, April 29, 2011

Top 5 Films Featuring Vin Diesel







This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Vin Diesel, the actor and one of the stars of the new film Fast Five has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that he happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Yeah, there was a time when Vin Diesel was poised to be a huge action star. With the one two punch of The Fast & the Furious and Pitch Black he had made a huge impression on a generation that was starved for a competent action hero. Then something happened, all of a sudden he wasn't cool any more, he somehow managed to become a joke. It was just after the release of the financially successful but painful to watch kids film The Pacifier that he had accomplished the impressive task of tanking his own career by...well, I am not exactly sure. I used to think it was because he was maybe a little too full of himself but I don't think that was it. He just made some pretty awful decisions but coming back to the franchise that made him a star was the smartest thing he has ever done. I may not be the biggest fan of the fast and furious movies but he has made some pretty decent movies in his somewhat short career and these are some of my own personal favorites.

1.




What really needs to be said here? Vin as Riddick may not be the role he is best known for but I still think it is the role he was the best fit for. His own particular brand of acting just melded with this murderous anti-hero so perfectly. While the film was mostly an ensemble cast with some standout performers like Rahda Mitchell and Keith David among them and a whole slew of nasty little creatures this was still Vin's movie without a doubt. The amount of menace he contributed to the already dire situation all the shipwrecked survivors had to deal with just made Riddick that much more interesting of a character to watch. His portrayal of this cold blooded killer with a special kind of eye sight was one of the better characters to happen to the sci-fi horror genre in a very very long time. I guess that is why we got a sequel to it I suppose which I will get to in a minute.

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2.




OK, this is a very complicated film for me to sum up my feelings about in a short paragraph. There is just so much more here than the blossoming careers of one gifted actor (Vin Diesel) and one not so gifted actor (Paul Walker). The strange thing about that though is that somehow Paul Walker ended up with a better filmography than Vin Diesel, how the hell did that happen? Anyway, Vin as Dominic Toretto was a part that was destined to make him a movie star. He was the likable badass criminal that was part of the cool underground lifestyle of street racing. While he didn't do anything outstanding in the role he definitely made his mark as a commanding presence whenever he was on screen. His iconic(?) line deliveries such as, "I live my life a quarter mile at a time" and "You almost had me?...you never had me.....you never had your car" will always live in infamy as well as his attachment to this series of films for better or worse.

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3.




I know I know, this is an animated film but you know what, that doesn't matter one bit. It is a fantastic film from the genius Brad Bird who gave us such Pixar classics as The Incredibles and Ratatouille. But Vin's contribution to the film shouldn't be taken lightly as he was so integral to it working as well as it does. He, as the voice of the iron giant, gave what is probably his best performance to date. It may sound condescending to say something like that but he infused that mechanical giant with so much heart and soul that you just couldn't help but care for him after a while. With the giant not really having much to say it was important for us to identify with him and get attached as soon as possible so that when the time came when he and Hogarth got in danger we cared enough about them to cheer them on and hope for the best. The film itself is a classic and I for one think it should be considered a highlight of the man's career, not a forgotten foot note.

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4.




This isn't going to be a popular choice I know. I mean, we are talking about the movie that was most likely responsible for killing Vin's action career before it even got started (The damn video game based on it is held in higher regard). But that doesn't mean it is a bad film, just a misunderstood and ill timed one I think. Riddick, as I mentioned before, is almost a perfect character for Vin so I understood why the sequel to the mildly successfully Pitch Black was completely focused on him this time instead of an ensemble or scary creatures that lurk in the night. I think it was all the surrounding elements to the story it attempted to tell that ultimately sank this beginning to a film series that never happened. While it did fail as a sequel to Pitch Black, it was in my opinion a really fun and energetic sci-fi romp that worked surprisingly well given all the mythology and ground work it tried to build. And for full disclosure I must admit that I am a fan of the far superior director's cut of the film, the original theatrical cut was just missing a lot of key elements that made the world director David Twohy tried to create. Hopefully Vin will get another shot at a Riddick movie some day because I have to say he is by far my favorite character of his. He just embodies him so well.


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5.




I remember really enjoying XXX when I first saw it in theaters. I also remember thinking to myself that this Vin Diesel guy is really going places because he was once again a perfect fit for the lead role of Xander Cage. While the idea of an extreme sports figure becoming a secret agent is just plain stupid, I found the movie to be a fun and interesting take on the tired James Bond formula. The film didn't ask much of Vin and thus I didn't ask much of him either, I just wanted to see him kick some ass and some asses definitely got kicked. I remember listening to the audio commentary by director Rob Cohen when he mentioned that Vin was the new breed of action hero, a multi-ethnic man of strong charisma and character that (at that time anyway) captured the attention of people hurting for an action star. To this day I still agree with that assessment even though the man has been on hiatus for the last half decade or so. With the upcoming (true) sequel starring Vin I hope this is a return to form more than a repeat of history. God knows, I will literally blow up any movie studio that greenlights The Pacifier 2.



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