Vin Diesel gained his greatest fame from the Fast and Furious films. While his turn as Riddick in a series of sci-fi movies garnered acclaim, he will forever be known for his role as Domenic Toretto in the car chase franchise. Diesel doesn’t always get credit for attempting to branch out of action films and try his hand at melodrama. When Vin Diesel teamed with producer Lawrence Bender, the actor put forth a memorable performance in the gangster film Knockaround Guys.
Lawrence Bender may have been the perfect producer for Vin Diesel to work with when the actor opted to try his hand at a crime film. Lawrence Bender not only produced Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, he crafted films that garnered awards. Bender walked away with nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Award for those Tarantino-directed crime films.
Knockaround Guys reflected a departure from the more humorous edge of those two aforementioned crime projects. Knockaround Guys draws some inspiration from Scorcese films such as Mean Streets as the film attempts to craft strong, multi-dimensional characters who find themselves in a violent world.
As Taylor, Vin Diesel doesn’t play the lead role in the film. His positioning in the film is more than a supporting character, but Barry Pepper’s Matty character takes the lead. Diesel, however, does steal the show a bit when he’s on screen. Diesel has a commanding presence. A booming voice combined with incredible charisma allows the actor to overshadow others in the cast. That’s not an easy feat when legendary Hollywood figures such as Dennis Hopper and John Malkovich play parts in the film as well. Diesel doesn’t upstage them, but his presence comes off as stronger and more impacting to the overall movie.
The plot of Knockaround Guys comes off as a bit more pedestrian than is usually the case with a Lawrence Bender film. The search for missing money doesn’t exactly fit the description of a completely original crime film convention. Still, the film has its moments and stands out from lesser works. The presence of Vin Diesel in the film helps with the cause.