Vin Diesel
Credit: Universal Studios

As I sat in a Mexican restaurant explaining the history of the Fast and Furious franchise to my friend, Sarah, before the opening night screening of Furious 7 last Thursday, I realized how deep and rich the plot lines have become. My FF breakdown quickly shifted from being about the amazing car chases and stunts, to the bonds that the characters have developed over the past six films. Sure, the series draws the audiences in with the cars defying physics and hard-body dudes in tank tops, but it really is about family (as Vin Diesel’s character, Dom Toretto, reminds us throughout the series).

With a voice like sandpaper, head as smooth as a river rock, and the swollen arms of a Greek God, Vin Diesel has become arguably the most popular and successful actors of this century. Sure, he isn't Daniel Day-Lewis, but who would you rather have a Corona with? The answer will always be Vin Diesel. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized something about myself: I enjoy people who are excited about life and are passionate about what they do. If you follow Vin Diesel on any social media (if you don’t, exit your browser now and give him a follow), you'd know that he is the epitome of loving life. From Instagrams of him bottle feeding tigers, to Facebook videos of him singing Katy Perry, posing with a fan, or genuine emotional tributes to friend and co-star Paul Walker, Vin wears his heart on his sleeve. And a lot of times he doesn’t even wear sleeves!

Let’s pull the e-brake real quick and talk about numbers. The most important number to know about Vin Diesel is 88.9 million. That is the number of likes on his Facebook fan page that he runs. "Vinbook," as he affectionately calls it, is the most popular actor’s Facebook page in the entire world (Will Smith is in a distant second place with a measly 72.7 million). Add that to the seven Fast and Furious films box office number which have grossed a combined $2.76 billion worldwide (so far), and it’s clear to see that I’m not the only one that loves Vin Diesel and The Fast and the Furious. The diverse "family members" of Dom’s crew portray people of all races and walks of life, and it just so happens that the thing that binds them together is their love of one another—not to mention street racing, hand-to-hand combat, and gigantic explosions. No wonder it’s so wildly popular.

The Cast of Fast and Furious
Credit: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

How did this family form? It all began in 2001 when The Fast and the Furious came out with four of the core members: Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, Jordana Brewster as Dom’s sister Mia Toretto, Paul Walker as undercover FBI agent Brian O’Conner, and street racer and Dom’s significant other Letty Ortiz portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez. From this core has spun a what is maybe the most diverse and legitimately great ensemble casts ever including Ludacris (ahem, Christopher Bridges), Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Tyrese Gibson. Their chemistry doesn’t stop when the director yells cut. These friendships continue in real life, making the ending of Paul Walker’s life and the ending of the road for his character in Furious 7 that much more poignant.

Most action movies fill you up with adrenaline, but Furious 7 will bring you every emotion on the spectrum. Yes, those jaw-dropping action sequences just keep getting better and better as the series goes on, but there's more than that to this flick. You'll hold your breath any time someone ghost-rides their car and climbs out on to the hood, you'll cheer at the soon-to-be-iconic one-liners, you'll laugh at every one of Roman's quips, and you will be moved to tears by the sincerely beautiful Paul Walker tribute. Simply put: It’s a must-see movie.

Take your friends to see Furious 7 and leave the theater together as family.

Find out about the movie's record-setting box office numbers from its opening weekend: