All we do is Vin, Vin, Vin, no matter what. Got Diesel on our minds, we can never get enough. And every time he shows up in the cineplex, everybody’s wallets open up! … AND THEY STAY THERE.
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Vin Diesel in the flesh onscreen, but he’s back in this month’s Bloodshot. It’s also been a full quarter-century since Diesel’s short-film debut caught Hollywood’s eye and eventually launched an improbably enduring career that spans several franchises.
As famous for his multi-ethnic makeup as his (sometimes literal) monosyllabic musings, here’s our monthlong ode to a guy whose career gets great mileage. This is All We Do is Vin.
I’ve loved you since the moment I saw you, that night you first exploded onto my television screen with The Fast and the Furious in 2001. Your swagger, your gravelly voice like seductive sandpaper, double-clutching your way right into our hearts. At the time, it just seemed like one of those fast-paced thrill rides that would eventually make its way into cult-classic movie history, a weird little movie for all of us to look back on in 20 years and remember a bunch of buff dudes drag-racing and drinking Coronas.
Well, it’s pretty close to 20 years later, and I can safely say that I don’t think any of us could have predicted the kind of franchise Fast and Furious would become, and it’s thanks to you.
After a couple mediocre missteps (mostly) without you — 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — you’re back at the helm now. Universal Pictures revived the original vision, sparked by that first film’s huge audience response, with a series of films built entirely around high-stakes heists and action-packed stunts that just get bigger and better with every new installment. Underground street-racing is no longer the main objective, but the franchise’s efforts to embrace what made the first film work so well while daring to evolve past it with unlimited and even more explosive possibilities — not to mention a revolving, diverse cast — is, dare I say, what’s made the revival so successful.
That, and the ever enduring dulcet tones of you — one Vin Sinclair Diesel.
I don’t need to tell you, but you can do anything, and we love to watch you do it. We’ve spent years watching you push your own limits with increasingly death- (and sometimes gravity-) defying stunts like outrunning trains, hitching an entire bank vault to the back of a car, jumping from a moving vehicle to save the girl you love after being thrown from a tank, blowing stuff up and, in general, causing all kinds of chaos and mayhem. When the first Fast and Furious came out, Michelle Rodriguez’s character, Letty Ortiz, driving under a semi and two cars drag-racing with a rapidly oncoming train seemed like the craziest stunts you could pull.
Oh, sweet summer child.
James Wan’s Furious 7 blew all previous notions of what it meant to be fast and furious out of the water, and at the center of it all was our very own Dominic Toretto. Your evolution of Dom has been a ride all on its own, from a reckless kid hijacking semi-trucks and living life a quarter-mile at a time to a older, still pretty reckless guy who does things like drive through skyscrapers and off of whole-ass planes, all while delivering your lines with that ice-cool exterior and silky monotone of yours that makes me want to just grip the gearshift real hard and gun it.
When Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw comes looking for payback after the Fast & Furious 6 confrontation with Dom and his team that landed Deckard’s younger brother, Owen (played by tall, dark and Welsh Luke Evans), in a hospital bed, the usual cast of Furious favorites find themselves caught between a mercenary’s relentless quest for revenge and a rescue mission commissioned by the U.S. government to retrieve both a computer hacker — and the surveillance program she created — from the hands of a shadowy terrorist organization. This may be the most convoluted plot a Fast and Furious movie had up to that point, but also the first to really get back to some of the franchise’s roots since the very first installment — with some well placed callbacks for the audience’s nostalgic enjoyment and the characters to confront.
At the very beginning of the film, Shaw waxes poetic that you can’t outrun the past — which sounds more like a prophecy than a simple commentary on the movie’s exploration of the franchise’s glory days, but that’s what it is. From Shaw’s one-man mission to make Dom’s team pay for its sins of the past to Letty’s struggles with her memory loss only aggravated by the sudden reappearance of Race Wars and Brian’s attempts to reconcile his former fast life with his newly domestic one, Furious 7 goes on to prove how someone can find ways to embrace their past without being held down by it — and naturally, none shine so brightly as you
Vin, we love every version of you. Tough Vin, angry Vin, reckless Vin. We love the Vin who barrels head-on into an oncoming car to avenge a friend, who will jump out of a plane in a car strapped to a parachute and race down the side of a mountain to rescue a hacker in distress. The Vin who drives through two skyscrapers to avoid certain death when the brakes go out and the Vin who fearlessly drives into a helicopter to save the day. The Vin who has to deliver an obvious comeback to everything, who declares that the street always wins while the foundation of a parking garage literally cracks around him during Dom’s final fight with Shaw. All these versions of you get our blood pumping and hearts racing faster than a 10-second car, and Furious 7 delivers every single one to us on a silver platter.
But the best Vin? Soft Vin.
For a guy this sturdy and stoic, there’s nothing more attractive than when he’s not afraid to get vulnerable for the people about whom he cares. The Vin who lets Dom support Brian being a father. The Vin who never lets Dom make Letty feel bad for her frustrations at losing her memory and respects her decision to go figure herself out. The Vin who gives Dom — when Letty finally gets her memory back and asks him why he never told her they were married — the most baller line ever spoken in an action movie: “Because you can’t tell someone they love you.” The Vin who knows Dom won’t hesitate to say, to whoever’s listening, that there’s nothing more important than family.
Furious 7 is less about street-racing and more about blowing things up and crazy elaborate stunts — Jesse Pinkman voice: FLYING CARS, BITCH!!! — but it’s also about change. Not in the least because, unfortunately, Paul Walker died in a car crash in the middle of filming. The end of the movie shows the characters, as much as the cast, saying goodbye to Walker in a moving montage with your emotional voiceover, Vin, that ends with an admission that “You’ll always be with me, and you’ll always be my brother” — proving once again that Furious 7, like Dom and the franchise itself, has always been about family at its core.
It’s also about extremely large men doing some very dangerous things with cars. (Let us not forget this is also the movie where Dwayne Johnson flexes his enormous biceps to break his arm cast.) But for the most part, it has some stuff to say about going back to your roots and taking what you need with you while leaving the rest behind.
Dom goes back to his old car for “one last ride,” but he’s not the same man anymore. He has changed, and all the heroics and rippling muscle in the world don’t change the fact that at his core he’s a family man.
Nothing sexier than that, Vin. Nothing sexier than that.