For ‘F9’, do stunts that stick
They threw cars into the sky from the backs of planes. They blew cars through buildings in Abu Dhabi, they piloted cars over patches of ice and pitted them against submarines. What is next for the filmmakers of the series “Fast and Furious”, a franchise that, for 20 years, has attracted audiences?
How about, well, magnets?
For “F9” (in theaters June 25), the latest sequel, the filmmakers consulted scientists to design their latest outrageous stunts, though they didn’t exactly obey the laws of physics.
Movie hero Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) has settled into a quiet life with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and her son. But he is brought back into action when the planet is threatened by a man with whom he has a history: his estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena), who possesses an electromagnet.
It consists of magnetic disks that can be wired together or used separately. A control disc (with a these-go-to-11-style dial) can increase or decrease the polarity of the magnets. The same disc can create a weak magnetic field that could move a fork away. But if amplified at the highest settings, the electromagnet can, for example, be attached to the bottom of an airplane and catch a flying car as it takes off from a cliff. And so the fun begins.
Director Justin Lin, back in the franchise after making his third to sixth installments, said he became intrigued by the concept of the magnet while traveling to Germany with a producer to find inspiration for movies.
âWe ended up in Hamburg, and at that point I was interested in particle accelerators,â he said in a video interview. “It was something I was thinking about, but I didn’t know where it was going to lead.”
There they visited DESY research center, houses a particle accelerator used to study the structure of matter. Lin said that one of the scientists, Christian Mrotzek, mentioned the idea that magnet technology using electric currents could create varying degrees of polarity. This concept formed the basis of the weapon designed by Lin with his fellow screenwriter, Daniel Casey.
But it’s not as if they stick closely to the science. It’s the kind of movie that puts a rocket engine on a Pontiac Fiero, after all. Instead, the crew took the idea of ââmagnets that can be turned on and off to create awesome stunts.
In a sequence that takes place through the streets of Edinburgh, the electromagnet pulls an entire car sideways, then through a store and into the bed of a delivery truck. No, none of this was done with real magnets. But yes, Lin’s team actually set up this shot on a stage, create a practical effect by putting a car on a pulley and sending it through a window on the side of a truck.
Some of the most impressive stunts occur during the final act car chase in Tbilisi, Georgia. Dom’s team turns electromagnets on and off to send cars down the middle of the street and act as roadblocks, or to tip over a 14ft tall, 26 ton armored vehicle (actually built for the movie).
As part of the sequence, Dom, driving a Dodge Charger equipped with electromagnets, is caught between a pair of trucks. He turns up the dial, forcing the trucks to “stick” to the side of his car. Then he lowers the dial, sending the trucks rushing past rows of parked cars.
Lin said that for this scene and others, he planned all the shots in a preview, with the locations scanned into the computer so he could determine angles and objectives. Then he shot reference images of the trucks on a set to understand their inner workings, “so I could really see that when you pull a truck and it struggles, how it was going to move,” he said. -he declares.
Finally, the scene was filmed in Tbilisi with stuntmen who drove the trucks into Dom’s car to make them appear magnetized, then walked away. But the result is intentionally a little chaotic: Lin enjoys directing his scenes with the characters’ mental states and frustrations in mind when performing driving moves.
âEven though I have the opportunity to make it perfect, I don’t like it,â he said. “I want the wrestling to be part of the edit so that the audience can participate with us.”