In October, Universal Pictures invited us (along with a small group of other journalists) to Atlanta to visit the set of Fast Five. The fifth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise was in Atlanta to shoot warehouse interior scenes that take place in the film's main location - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The fourth film in the franchise, Fast & Furious, grossed over $350 million worldwide and injected new fuel into the franchise. The third installment, Tokyo Drift, has a core fan base, but is generally considered the weakest of the saga. 2 Fast 2 Furious was the hip-hop-centric sequel to the surprise hit original film, The Fast and the Furious. All four films grossed over $150 million worldwide individually, solidifying the argument that Fast and Furious is a true blockbuster franchise.
The one consistent element in each of the previous movies is family. All four films are clearly action movies with a car-centric theme, but it is all gear head mania is interconnected by an over-arching theme of family and trust. The franchise began with a complicated yet budding relationship between Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) that brought her brother, Dom (Vin Diesel) and his group of street racers head-to-head. Ten years later, Brian and Mia are in the prime of their relationship and everybody involved is on the run from federal agents.
The cast and crew of Fast Five all spent some time with us on set to discuss the state of the franchise and where Fast Five rests in the saga. While this is the fifth movie, it actually acts as the fourth chapter of the story. Universal confirmed that the correct order of the Fast and Furious films is as follows:
- The Fast and the Furious (2001)
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
- Fast & Furious (2009)
- Fast Five (2011)
- The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
One of the easiest ways to locate the timing of Fast Five is the appearance of Sung Kang, a character who [SPOILER ALERT] is killed in Tokyo Drift. In addition to Kang, nearly every major character from all four films has a role in Fast Five. Dom and Brian gather the all-star team of street racers to pull off one of the most insane heists in recent memory.
The Set Visit
Fast Five has a lot going for it. There is a major heist that involves an armored car and customized Chargers, high-speed pursuits down the dangerous favelas of Brazil and, of course, the addition of Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, a formidable foe for Vin Diesel's Dom. But Hobbs is not a true villain in Fast Five and Johnson told us he isn't sure what side the audience will put him on. Universal has asked us to save some of the juicy secrets of the plot, but Johnson's character will introduce some dynamic issues for the entire cast to overcome.
The set in Atlanta was massive. An abandoned train yard was transformed into a secret hideout for the gang - but it is more than just a location. The warehouse is used as an obstacle course for a special group of cars the gang will test before a big heist scene. Essentially, it is a training course to see if certain vehicles can handle the unconventional job they have planned.
While much of the film was shot in Puerto Rico (doubling as Rio de Janiero), the entire cast, crew and cars were on set in Atlanta. The cast and crew also shared some intriguing details about the direction of the fifth installment.
The interviews spanned two days. Some took place in the trailers, while the last few were held in a corner near the filming area. Each cast member was given a small scooter to use for on-set transportation during production and some curiously rode to the interview on them - Tyrese, for example, was a huge fan. Obviously, the cast will find themselves in much more capable vehicles in the film. Check back this week for an article specifically devoted to the vehicles of Fast Five.
We had an opportunity to watch a few pre-cut segments from the Puerto Rico shoot and it was a mind-blowing scene. The action in Fast Five is arguably the best we have seen yet from the franchise. Dwayne Johnson brings an extra dose of muscle to the scenes, allowing the movie to get out of the cars for some on-foot action. The one scene we are all waiting to see is the epic fist fight between Johnson and Diesel. While we were unable to watch the fight in action, both actors stepped away bloodied and exhausted. The scene took multiple days to shoot and even more to choreograph, so the only question that remains is: who will come out victorious?
Once we sat down with the Fast Five cast and crew, the group of journalists had an opportunity to really get into the details of the film. Check back this week for separate articles of the main cast interviews, including Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, car coordinator Dennis McCarthy and director Justin Lin. For now, let's give the rest of the cast a chance to share their thoughts on the film.