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Whether he’s taking life “one quarter-mile at a time” in The Fast and the Furious, saying “I Am Groot” in Guardians of the Galaxy, or giving demanding and heartfelt performances in Strays, you can’t argue that Vin Diesel gives it his all whenever he steps in front of the camera. For nearly a quarter-century, Diesel has shown up in some of the most successful and popular film franchises of all time, made brief yet memorable performances in movies directed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, and carved out a unique place for himself on the list of Hollywood leading men.
The list of best Vin Diesel movies is one that is filled with billion-dollar spectacles that must be seen to be believed, gritty, character-driven dramas, and voice-acting performances that show off his ability to emote with nothing more than a few words or expressions. Below is a list of the best Diesel has to offer and where you can watch each movie streaming or by purchasing it outright…
Rob Cohen’s 2002 take on the spy thriller, xXx, isn’t for everyone (especially those who take life a little too seriously), but this movie is a damn good time. Vin Diesel plays Xander Cage, an extreme sports enthusiast with an underground following who is recruited by the NSA to pull off what other, more traditional spies could not: infiltrate a terrorist organization before its leader, Yorgi (Marton Csokas) can spread anarchy around the world.
With more than enough death-defying stunts that would kill anyone not named Xander Cager, xXx is a high-octane thrill ride that proves Vin Diesel can carry an action movie on his own, even if a lot of it doesn’t make sense. Let's just hope we finally get to see xXx 4 one of these days.
The Fast and Furious Movies (2001 - 2017)
The Fast and Furious movies will forever be what most people think of when the name Vin Diesel comes up, and rightfully so. These movies, while imbalanced and at times logic-defying absurd-athons, clearly work, based on the insane box office draws they have become with the past few installments, and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. From the streets of Los Angeles to freaking outer space, there are no roads, buildings, or laws of gravity that can hold back Dom Toretto and his ever-growing family.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Although it was anything but a success at the box office upon its release in summer 1999, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant has become something of a cult classic that is beloved by seas of fans in the years since coming up short initially. The story of a Cold War era alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-landing near a small New England town and forming an unbreakable bond with a 9-year-old boy is full of wonder, excitement, and plenty of emotions, which are expressed beautifully by Diesel’s Iron Giant, who had both a strong and gentle voice. This would be seen again later on with Diesel’s portrayal of Groot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s grueling 1998 World War II drama Saving Private Ryan features not only one of the best war stories shown on the silver screen but also some of the best performances you’ll see in the genre. And, while Tom Hanks and Matt Damon are the two names to come up the most when talking about the Saving Private Ryan cast, one that needs to be talked about more is Vin Diesel’s brief portrayal of Private Adrian Caparzo, who puts his life on the line to save a young French girl from a German sniper not long after the movie’s blistering opening scene featuring the D-Day invasion. Though barely in the movie, Diesel makes the most of his time and gives a performance that surely didn’t hurt his career moving forward.
The 1997 drama Strays, which was written, directed, produced, and featured Vin Diesel, tells the story of a low-level drug dealer named Rick who grows tired of his way of life and does everything in his power to turn the corner and leave his life of crime in the dust. If you want to watch a movie that really gives you a peak inside the mind and soul of the one-day action star, there is nothing better than Strays (at least in terms of his films that are available streaming or for purchase, since Multi-Facial can only be found on YouTube).
The Guardians Of The Galaxy/Avengers Movies (2014 - 2019)
Much like he did in The Iron Giant, Vin Diesel’s voice performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does nothing but elevate each film in terms of emotion. Even though we don’t see his face or hear Vin Diesel say anything besides variations of “I am Groot,” you can feel the power behind each line through the way he emotes at every corner. Whether it be as mature Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy or teenage Groot in Avengers: Infinity War, Diesel’s performance is phenomenal.
Boiler Room (2000)
Ben Younger’s take on Wall Street in the 2000 crime thriller, Boiler Room, is truly something to behold. Set in a world in which young stock brokers with more greed and ambition than morals or even brains, the film follows Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), a college dropout who quickly learns that if something seems too good to be true, it most definitely is too good to be true. Pretty much everyone gives great performances here, but Vin Diesel, with his portrayal of Chris Varick, rises to the top. Seriously, go back and watch the “closing” scene early on and tell me you don’t see shades of Dominic Toretto with his charisma.
Pitch Black (2000)
Before he was king of the Los Angeles street racing scene or the NSA’s Sobe-fueled spy, Vin Diesel was Richard B. Riddick, a notorious criminal with surgically-enhanced eyes in David Twohy’s 2000 sci-fi horror flick Pitch Black. One of Diesel’s first major roles, the movie follows Riddick and other members of a space transporter crew who crash-land on an alien planet and become prey to a colony of vicious extraterrestrial monsters who want to do one thing and one thing only: kill. The movie would later gain a cult following and spinoff a couple sequels that further expand the character of Riddick and his background.
Find Me Guilty (2006)
Directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet, the 2006 courtroom drama Find Me Guilty sees Vin Diesel take on the role of Jackie DiNorscio, who was part of the longest Mafia trial in American history after being charged with racketeering. Much like the real DiNorscio (whose court transcripts make up much of the courtroom testimony), Diesel’s character is at times over-the-top and hilarious, yet committed and determined as he attempts to beat a racketeering charge. Those expecting to see a mafioso carrying out hits or getting caught up in high-speed chases will be let down, but if you want to see Diesel take command of the screen, you’ll love Find me Guilty.
Knockaround Guys (2002)
The 2002 crime comedy Knockaround Guys centers on four friends with ties to the mob who are sent out west to retrieve a bag of cash, which is easier said than done. Led by Barry Pepper, Seth Green, Andrew Davoli, and Vin Diesel, Brian Koppleman and David Levien’s bloody and at times hilarious farcical mafia movie sees the four leads take to a small Montana town where they cross paths with a powerful and ruthless sheriff. Where else are you going to see Vin Diesel share scenes with John Malkovich?
As you can see, the best Vin Diesel movies aren’t all based in the Fast and Furious franchise or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and are actually quite varied. If you are in the need for any more great titles to watch while you wait for what’s in store for Vin Diesel, check out our list of the best movies on Netflix as well as the best Amazon Prime movies. And if you want to know when you’ll see our friend Vin on the big screen again, check out our 2021 movies schedule.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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