Set Visit: Fast Five plus new pics!
A decade after THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS hit screens, the fifth film in the installment is ready to race into theaters on April 29. But exactly what can audiences expect from a franchise that prizes itself on grand car chases and an ever-changing roster of drivers? To find out, I went straight to the source – or rather the set of FAST FIVE – in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was able to speak to members of the cast about the upcoming... fivequel (?) and check out some of the very sexy rides up close and personal. (It's probably the only chance I'll ever have to touch such expensive cars and not have someone call the cops on me.) Of course, these awesome automobiles sported some not-so-common modifications, mostly in the form of two steering wheels (for when stunt drivers had to control the car while the director got a shot of a star “driving” it) or a near-complete gutting in order to allow for a camera to catch shots from the interior.
Surprisingly though, there isn’t as much car porn in FAST FIVE, with the emphasis shifting to battered, beat-up classics with the film’s new setting in Rio de Janeiro.
“But there are these nice Dodge Chargers that we steal,” volunteered Sung Kang who originated the role of Han Lue in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. “We pull up to each other at a stop sign and see each other and say, ‘Hey, this is a good moment to see whose skills can kind of top one another.’ Then we go for it and each of us bring in our own styles.”
It even looks like the characters themselves are getting more screentime this time around, which is great considering how many familiar faces are returning and how many are entering the mix for the first time. While Michelle Rodriguez sadly won’t be back, other main players are, including: Vin Diesel as Dom, Paul Walker as Brian, Jordana Brewster as Mia, Tyrese as Roman, Matt Schulze as Vince, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej, and Gal Gadot as Gisele. But there are also some new blood joining the cast, namely Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Elsa Pataky as Agent Luke Hobbs and Officer Elena Neves, respectively. Good thing they all know who’s boss.
“I think they're all quick to realize who that leader is and who that father figure is,” said Diesel. “Even if some of them can be resistant, which makes for good texture. This film is driven by circumstances that none of them, especially Dom, realized. He was content dying off essentially without his love. What's fascinating is that it starts off with two characters, Brian and Mia retaliating against an injustice that they felt the system did. They thought -- we all did -- ‘Hey, this dude just took down a guy bigger than Pablo Escobar.’ They're not trying to become criminals to make money. This isn't Ocean's 11. This isn't Ocean's 18.”
So what is FAST FIVE? After driving around half the U.S. and most of Tokyo, some audience members might have lost sight of the finish line but Diesel says the franchise is back on track, albeit a new one.
“This is a trilogy,” he asserted. “In the same way that we've seen other franchises reinvent themselves and it was kind of what they had to do -- If you remember seeing the posters for FAST AND FURIOUS, there was no number on the poster. That's bizarre. That doesn't happen a lot. It was a subliminal way of saying, ‘We're not going to go on and on and on. We closed up the last three and it's almost a fresh start.’”
And what better way to get things going again then by adding Dwayne Johnson to the mix? Walking onto the set, Johnson struck a hulking figure almost as big as his wrestling days and some intimidating facial hair for the part. It didn’t look like everyone was going to acquiesce to Diesel’s character so easily.
“Storywise, Dom and Brian are accused of murder,” Johnson explained. “There are two DEA agents who are murdered and the murder gets pinned on them and Mia. I’m sent to find guys when the government needs to find – haha, it sounds like The A-Team. In a way he is a bounty hunter, but he is a U.S. Marshal sent down to Brazil to find these guys. Fun character to play, where I am able to be efficient in the skills – and not only efficient in the skills and having that animalistic, visceral way that I can rip your fucking throat out, excuse my language, but also have the backing of the U.S. government – a fun, fun character.”
As if to show us just how much they meant business, the studio let us listen in on -- but not see, alas -- as Diesel and Johnson shot a very explosive fight scene between their characters. Let’s just say it sounded every bit as fun and as violent as you could hope.
But will the car action be as practical as the fistfights between the actors? Car buffs have railed in against what they perceive as too much CGI in some of the past films, preferring instead to see real cars take real risks and reap real consequences onscreen.
Director Justin Lin helped put to bed some of our fears, explaining, “A lot of the CGI helped in the last two were environmental. The good thing about this one is that I feel like we are taking it even farther. On the last one there were challenges like the tunnel where you just can’t physically do it. There is no tunnel that exists that is like that. All the cars are real but we had to build the environment. That in it self has certain elements and is going to bring out different reactions sub-consciously from the viewer. So on this one, I was very conscious to not even want to go and approach that. There are effects but I feel like our approach and the coverage in it, at the end of the day is not even noticeable at all.”
The visuals aren’t the only thing experiencing growth and change since the first film. Ten years later and all of the actors are in very different places and expecting different things. As Paul Walker explained, the road to FAST FIVE hasn’t always been the easiest -- but it has worked out in the end.
“The last one was tough. Vin and I hadn’t worked together for a while and people were in different places and for whatever reason we felt a little more pressure and tension than we should have. Part of it may have been out of our own insecurities and wondering whether or not there was even an audience for it anymore. But it is still relatively fresh. It was only a year or so ago that the last one came out. That doubt now is erased and we’ve been more or less validated. This time has been easier and more fun. Along the way there have been some bumps. The second one Vin didn’t do. The third one neither of us really did it other than that cameo. It kind of got away from us for a little while and I don’t think we really knew what it was anymore or where it was going and the executives at the time had the idea the real stars were the cars. Now everyone really knows what it is about and it’s just lighter. I mean, we are throwing more money at it this time than any of the previous ones and it doesn’t feel like there are any stakes. Justin has an incredible work ethic and works really hard and just enjoys what he is doing. It is FAST AND FURIOUS and hey, if you aren’t going to show up and have fun you shouldn’t be doing it. He takes it as serious as anybody should, but at the same time he is lighthearted about it. It’s a balance. We can’t take ourselves too seriously or it loses the essence of what it really stands for I think.”
And what does it stand for? Fast cars, steadfast friends, and fantastic races -- but Fast and Furious fans already know that. As Ludacris said, “[Fast Five] doesn’t skip a beat. If you are a fan of each of the installments then you will completely understand and won’t question what the hell is going on here.”
Stay tuned for interviews with FAST FIVE stars Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel. For now, check out these brand new pics from the film!