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When it comes to top Vin Diesel movies, you can’t skip this blockbuster that introduced the world to Dominic Toretto. Whether he’s defying physics or roaring into the fast-paced action, Diesel delivers big-screen thrills as a legendary American hero.

This hand-drawn animation flop bombed on release, but it is now regarded as the breakout film of Brad Bird, who went on to direct Pixar hits like The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The film is also notable for introducing the world to Groot, a scene-stealing tree monster whose voice is delivered by Diesel.

1. Fast & Furious

If you need proof that Diesel can do more than just blow things up and crash cars, this tense thriller is a solid early example. Sidney Lumet cast him as a mafiosi who garrulous represents himself during the longest organized crime trial in US history.

This primewire film set the tone for Diesel’s ruthless, ride-or-die street racing character Dominic Toretto in the F&F franchise. Director Rob Cohen nails the adrenalin rush of illegal racing and gives Diesel plenty of room to flex his rippling muscles.

An avowed Dungeons & Dragons fan, Diesel puts his bald head and big muscles to good use in this effects-heavy modern fantasy. He stars as an immortal witch hunter who takes on mystical forces and dark magic. A fun flick with a soulful performance from Diesel. This is a must-see for fans of the franchise.

2. Strays

Before Diesel became the face of high-octane action franchises, he starred in some intriguing smaller films. One such film was Strays, a drama about a hustler trying to evolve beyond his group of immature horndogs. It encapsulated the actor’s now-familiar screen image and showcased his acting chops.

Sidney Lumet co-directed this courtroom drama that centered on mobster Jack DiNorscio’s refusal to testify against his former Lucchesi crime family members. The movie features a star-studded cast and a powerful story that examines how someone can change their life for the better.

Diesel voices Groot again in this massive Marvel epic, this time alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy in their attempt to stop Thanos from collecting all six Infinity Stones and destroying the universe. The film features a slew of exciting characters, fast-paced action, and an unforgettable finale.

3. Dune

Years before he voiced Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Diesel lent his unmistakable voice to this overlooked animated classic. The Iron Giant is a film that says far more than its simple premise allows: A shy mega-robot taught by a young boy to defy his destiny has a powerful message about Cold War paranoia, family, and the power of love.

The movie also features some of the best action scenes in his career: Diesel carries Hugo Toorop, a mercenary and smuggler in futuristic New York City with a smoldering dark side. He leads snowmobile chases, car chases, and a big gunfight in this effects-heavy modern fantasy.

A progenitor of The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room puts Diesel on the map as a hard-edged lawman whose bruising tactics are effective but ethically questionable. This is one of the first roles that shows off his range as an actor beyond brash action heroism.

4. The Pacifier

With more Fast & Furious films and Riddick installments on the horizon, Diesel is a bona fide action star audiences pay to see. But he has also proved to be a capable actor in other genres, with a range of interesting movies under his belt.

In this gangster-slash-buddy flick, a Brooklyn street fighter turns the tables on a small-town bully. Diesel’s bald, beefy character oozes tough-guy charisma.

The Diesel-directed Disney family comedy about a by-the-book Navy Seal babysitting five obnoxious kids is not the film critics hoped for, but our man gamely embraces the dirty-nappy slapstick and equally mushy sentimentality.

5. Riddick

After Pitch Black, Diesel brought the lean action hero back for this claustrophobic sci-fi slasher that pitted his eponymous outlaw against both humans and savage alien creatures on a desolate planet. The movie can be cheesy and silly, but it’s also a lot of fun thanks to Diesel’s growly performance.

Director David Twohy delivers another big-scale, stylized action flick on a modest budget. The movie can be excessively violent, but the payoff is worth it.

A shrewd, well-acted crime drama that nails the star’s now familiar screen persona of shaven head and tank top defiant self-reliance. The film also benefits from a tense, brutal central plot twist. It’s a great showcase for the acting talents of the entire cast. But it’s the aforementioned Groot who steals the show with his endearing, over-the-top character. He’s now a cultural icon.

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