Fast Five (2011): Stars and Fights

The action drama Fast Five, directed by Justin Lin, starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, will be released by Universal on April 29.

When the production team began work on Fast Five, they understood that the themes of family, loyalty and sacrifice that are so deeply entrenched into the series bring fans back again and again. As the last film ended, we find Brian making the ultimate Mia and Brian warily make their way through a favela in Rio. – 17 – sacrifice: to side once again with Dom and break him out of custody, while giving up his own freedom to go on the run with Mia. This commitment bonded the two as brothers.

Revisiting Dom Toretto in the last chapter reignited Diesel’s desire to delve deeper into the character of an ex-con seeking redemption. For an actor who looks toward developing complex characters, the opportunity was enticing. “Dom is coming out of mourning the loss of Letty and is again on the run with Brian and Mia, so there’s still a story to tell,” Diesel says. “It’s a testament to this franchise that we take the time to explore these anti-action scenes that are all about heart, character and the growth of characters that you know so well.”

Morgan spent a good deal of time with Diesel to delve into the inner workings of Toretto and his demons. “It’s awesome for me to hear from inside the head of the person who is that character,” he states. “Vin is very different from Dom, but when Vin gets on the set he becomes Dom. He just gets quieter and focused. It’s something that he accesses that I don’t have access to. To be able to gain his feedback and take advantage of it only makes the character better.” Walker appreciates Diesel’s focus to keep character-driven story lines an integral part of the franchise formula.

“Fast Five has tons of action; everyone is running around shooting guns, boosting cars and ripping safes out of walls,” he says. “But at the end of the day, these are regular guys dealing with their own issues. Vin fights for that. A lot of people think of this franchise as being all about the cars, but these characters humanize the whole series and bring it down to ground level.” Jordana Brewster, who reprises her role as Mia Toretto, watched The Fast and the Furious prior to filming to revisit the character she had originated. She was satisfied to see the young girl who was so often the voice of restraint in 2001 now evolving into a tougher, sexier woman who handles life as a fugitive with a steely resolve.

“Mia was a little bit of a wallflower and more reserved than she is now,” Brewster notes. “She always had a strength about her, but she didn’t speak up quite as much as she could have. In Fast Five, she has risen to the challenge of their circumstances and is far stronger. As an actress, it’s rewarding to check in with your character over the years and see such marked changes.”

For Walker, reflecting upon the progression of former cop Brian O’Conner over the past decade has also been rewarding. He says, “After 10 years, Brian’s finally realized that the world is no longer black and white. Dom may have been on the other side of the law, but he was clearly a good guy. Brian’s joined him and is finally where he should have always been. The best cops make phenomenal criminals and vice versa.”

The search for a formidable enemy who threatens to bring down Dom, Brian and their crew ended when Dwayne Johnson expressed interest in joining the – 18 – (L to R) Leo (TEGO CALDERON) and Santos (DON OMAR) play their part. franchise. It was a coup for the filmmakers to cast the action star in a role that has him go head-to-head against such a celebrated character as Diesel’s hero. Based on Johnson’s interest, Lin and Morgan sat down and began to rework their vision of Hobbs. But Morgan wasn’t so quick to establish Hobbs as an evil guy.

“The Hobbs character is not necessarily a villain,” the writer notes. “The more appropriate term would be the ‘contagonist.’ He’s just a fiercely driven guy doing his job to bring in two outlaws, Brian and Dom. Not a villain, but a man who will do whatever it takes to do that…dead or alive.” For Moritz, Diesel and Lin, bringing a new character into the series who could match brawn with Dom was no easy task.

Lin comments: “It was very important when we were developing the character of Hobbs to have someone of Dwayne’s stature to say that he’d be interested in the part. That meant a lot to me as a director. It meant that it was worth it for him to want to come and be in the fifth in a franchise. That told me what the movie could be and that we were going in the right direction.”

Regardless, Hobbs is a great foil to Dom. Says Johnson: “The franchise’s success was appealing to me, and I really enjoyed Justin Lin’s take on the last one. Justin and I sat down for hours at my house and really got an idea for his vision. “Hobbs poses a different threat than the other antagonist in the movie,” continues Johnson. “He has a different energy because he’s not driven by money or power. Instead, Hobbs is driven by his code and by his job. He believes that if you are a bad man and you’re toxic to the world, he’s going to rid you of that toxicity.”

Not only have Dom and his team garnered the undivided attention of Rio’s lethal kingpin who operates under the guise of a legit businessman, they now have Hobbs, a terminator who is determined to bring them to justice. It’s a lethal combination that threatens to stop Dom, Brian and Mia dead in their tracks. Not one, but two deadly opponents want them dead or in jail; these are not options they are willing to test. Johnson, coming off filming the revenge drama Faster, which had him lean and well built, gained an additional 30 pounds of muscle to beef up his already muscular frame and ensure Agent Hobbs was indeed as menacing as Morgan had written him.

The showdown between Dom and Hobbs is one based upon pure raw physicality, but it’s powered by much more. Explains Moritz: “The fight between Dom and Hobbs was one of the biggest challenges in the movie. To choreograph a fight where you have adversaries who are so equally matched is tough. We wanted to make it feel like it’s not just a fight, but full of character moments that make the fight that much more exciting.” It was up to stunt coordinator MIKE GUNTHER, who mastered the stunts on Fast & Furious, to choreograph this epic fight.

Working closely with TROY ROBINSON and TANOAI REED, longtime stunt doubles for Diesel and Johnson respectively, Gunther mapped out a bout that would end up demolishing half of the auto-plant set. Several weeks out, Diesel Gisele (GAL GADOT) and Han (SUNG KANG) plot their next move. – 19 – and Johnson joined in on the stunt rehearsals to refine the interplay. The scene, which filmed for more than a week with the actors and their doubles, kept the set medic busy tending to cuts, bruises, pulled muscles and sprained ankles.

Remarks Diesel of their collective battle wounds: “The scene is a real sense of pride for both Dwayne and me. It was very clear early on that this showdown couldn’t have gone down any other way. It was worth it.” “This was an opportunity of a lifetime,” adds Johnson. “I was able to utilize what I have in my own personal arsenal: years of training, wrestling, and learning different combat styles from the films that I’ve shot.”

After witnessing the fight scene, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges sums up the cast’s feelings: “You have Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson up against Vin Diesel. There hasn’t been anything this big since King Kong vs. Godzilla. Period.”