Monday, 12 September 2011
Faster & Furious.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
It all started up again with Tokyo, 'Tokyo Drift' to be exact. In the third, but chronologically last instalment in the 'Fast and the Furious' franchise. The cars, music, Sung Kang, Japan and that girl from the Bruno Mars video did a good job of keeping the series running on fumes, but still it was missing something. In the final scene of the movie our lead is challenged to one more race. As he pulls up to the starting line a beautiful, classic American muscle car flexes into view. Could it be? As we see the dome of the driver and we pan round and there he is in a fresh white tee in the driving seat, it's Dominic Toretto or should we say Vin Diesel, the biggest star of 'The Fast and the Furious' torque, adrenaline fuelled blockbuster. Even in this 30 second or so cameo we are reminded of the charisma and charm of this character and actor that had been missed since the great, but not the same feeling '2 Fast 2 Furious'.
Then came the big moment. The 'new model, original parts' ensemble that became the fourth 'Fast' movie that took everything back to the original so much that the similar title ('Fast & Furious') is still bound to cause confusion when ordered on DVD today. Diesel refuelled the franchise along with old friends Paul Walker, Jordan Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez for a thrilling ride that engine gunned this franchise into this years formidable 'Fast Five' sequel. A movie so hot and cool it was filmed in the Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and featured more old friends in the form of the franchise favourites Tyrese, Ludacris and Sung Kang and a brilliant, new baddie to wrestle with in the form of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. 'Five' has become so famous with it's thrills, spills, action and visual entertainment that it's widely considered as the best in the series...so far. Still with all this 'Italian Job' meets 'Oceans Eleven' film has to offer it's the lead that brings everything together in this ensemble piece. It's clear to see that Vin Diesel is back in the driving seat with his career nowhere near the rear-view.
The Hollywood hard-man age seems to have died with the ageing of the Stallone's, Segal's and Van Damme's (even though they still make great movies) but there's just something about Mark Sinclair Vincent. Something that goes beyond his Brooklyn bouncer to actor, director, producer, screenwriter success. Something that goes beyond his forever young, 44 years of age and something that goes beyond his millions of inspired Facebook followers who are moved by his motivating and inspiring posts that could only be rivalled by 'Fast Five' co-star Tyrese's influential Tweets. It goes beyond social networking or Hollywood status. This charismatic character is today's leading movie tough guy, but with added smarts.
He anchors two major franchises in the 'Fast & Furious' and 'Riddick' and he was irreplaceable in the 'xXx' one (maybe it's time somebody made a call). His heavy star weight is so big that excitement is already buzzing for his next drive and fist-fight with fellow strongman 'The Rock' in 'Fast Six' due Memorial Day 2013 in a series that doesn't seem to be running out of road. Why so long you ask in anticipation? Well that's because Vin's currently filming the new 'Riddick' movie for a franchise that featured the dark, classic 'Pitch Black' and the exciting 'Chronicles of Riddick'. Right now the only other man who leads two huge, box-office franchises still current is Robert Downey Jnr (with 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes') arguably the most charismatic and popular figure in Hollywood right now, two characteristics that help Vin to not be far off.
Vin Diesel is one of your most marketable movie makers because the ladies love him like Cool James and the fellas love the lights, camera and action of his films. Diesel's far from unleaded as he can still roll wit the punches and special effects like he asked someone for what Bruce Willis was having. The hard-worker keeps his frame and creative pictures honed because of his love for his art. He keeps the love for 'Riddick' alive in computer games and animated spin-off features, while even when critically panned he shows his underrated diversity and underground talent like in the harshly judged and actually good 'Babylon A.D.'.
Still it's the depth of his personality and character that bring out the deeper human aspects of his tough characters. Just take a look at another underrated gem of a movie for example in the revenge thriller 'A Man Apart' that stands right next to similar modern greats like Denzel Washington's 'Man On Fire' or Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard's 'The Brave One'. In this movie Diesel plays a man hell bent on revenge after criminals kill the love of his life. Armed with true grit and genuine heart Diesel perfectly shows both sides of a man, battling between love and hate and good and bad.
This conflicted performance was done with so much class that it seemed to inspire his character in 'Fast & Furious' who also looked to avenge the loss of his love. Showing that this one-time guilty pleasure franchise had more to it in moments of innocence, Diesel showed this movie was more than just candy for the average fuel-heads. Take a look at Diesel in 'A Man Apart' trying to save his girlfriend or watching his Dom Turreto character watching his girlfriend sleep and walking away in 'Fast & Furious' for more 100 per cent proof acting. Or how about how his character talks about losing his father and driving in 'The Fast & Furious' or re-telling his favourite memory of his dad in 'Fast Five' and you can see by the expression on Vin's face just how deep he digs to bring out the complexities and characteristics of his roles.
Born in New York City with Italian and black ancestry to a psychiatrist and astrologer mother, Diesel has had a wide multi-cultural upbringing. He made his acting debut at age 7 and has been performing, writing and directing ever since, his short film 'Multi-Facial' made waves at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995. Today his awesome resume doesn't just list some amazing movie he can also add the founding of production companies, One Race Films, Tigon Studios and Racetrack Record to his credits. Before Vin stepped into a car ready for a street race or a spaceship ready to save the world he made his mark in many other movies. From a moving but short-lived performance in 'Saving Private Ryan' to his strong, deep voice being used right in 'The Iron Giant' animated feature.
Still it was in the Ben Affleck led indie hit 'The Boiler Room' that Diesel really heated up. This cult classic had shades of a modern 'Wall Street' and the story of young greed featured a standout, scene-stealing performance from Vin who showed integrity even in this money-hungry movie. Then after taking the wheel in 'The Fast & Furious' movie the offers came rolling in at high-speed, from showing he could have fun and not take himself seriously in 'The Pacifier' to almost playing the film adaptation of the video game 'Hitman'. With all this constant, Diesel energy (that's where the name comes from) it's little wonder he was handed the keys back to the 'Fast & Furious' franchise, or used in character to ignite the driving, action video game 'Wheelman'.
Vin Diesel continues to motor on whatever the medium. Whether it be showing his social conscious side by representing for his love of the Dominican Republic and its multicultural facets by appearing in President Leonel Fernandez campaign ads or by directing the short film 'Los Bandoleros'. Or whether it be motivating and inspiring the public daily with inspiration on the Internet or by keeping his private life exactly that by adopting as he's been quoted "the Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino code of silence". Vin has remained Vin, true to himself, the people and his work. Showing he is more brains then brawn, Vin just keeps going with no sign of slowing down. From more chronicles of Riddick to 'Fast & Furious' shifting from fifth gear who can stop the Diesel?