FAST & FURIOUS 6
It's Your Move: Stunts of the Film
With Fast & Furious 6, the filmmakers opted to
broaden the action base by bringing in more physical
fight sequences to balance out the remarkable set pieces
already in place. One of the keys to Lin's proven method
of success is to utilize as much practical stunt work as
possible, so this tactic dovetailed perfectly.
This approach, however, puts an enormous amount
of pressure on the stunts and special effects department
to conceive and execute high-impact, innovative driving,
pyrotechnic and fighting sequences, but they continue
to deliver. "Go big or go home," became Lin's comical
reply during the early stages of preproduction as the se-
quences were fleshed out during departmental meetings.
Supervising stunt coordinator GREG POWELL,
a London-based stunt veteran, hails from one of the
country's premier stunt dynasties started by his father
(Nosher) and uncle (Dinny) and continuing with
himself, his brother (Gary) and his daughter (Tilly).
Powell was brought in to visualize the ambitious
undertaking that Morgan and Lin had devised.
From the get-go, Powell knew that he would
spearhead a multifaceted action film that would need to satisfy the "push all limits" credo of the franchise --
fast, hard-hitting driving action mixed with inventive
physical maneuvers and attention-grabbing set pieces.
To accomplish, the stunt coordinator brought in fight
choreographer OLIVIER SCHNEIDER and his team
with the express goal of surpassing the epic Hobbs-
Dom clash in Fast Five. However, in this chapter, the
fight team would need to choreograph an astounding
16 matchups, with almost every cast member getting
a piece of the action. Powell and Schneider had
previously teamed up for the action-thriller Safe House
and developed a collaborative style that allowed them
a smooth process when designing the multifaceted
The French-born Schneider learned quickly that
he and Lin were kindred spirits in moving the story
along. When the pair first met, they agreed that the
tone of each fight should be precise with a purpose
for every move. Reflects Lin: "The Dom-Hobbs fight
in Fast Five is something that we'll never duplicate. I
felt this time we could actually top ourselves by having
the other characters have their moments. Through that,
you see a lot of different fighting styles, all designed
Since the cast were all quite fit and prepared to train
hard to pull off anything the team proposed, Schneider
was able to up the skill level and work
more on the cast's choreography.
Johnson, coming off of Pain & Gain,
had arrived in London with an extra
10 lb. of muscle packed onto his
already brawny 260 lb., 6'2" frame.
He would continue his grueling
early morning workouts on a daily
basis. Millions of his loyal Twitter
followers were privy to it all -- from
gallons of oatmeal and protein binges
to his legendary 3:00 a.m. workout
routine before heading off to an early
morning arrival on the film set.
Diesel, Rodriguez, Bridges and Gibson all had
begun their own personal fitness programs months
before filming and continued though production, while
MMA warrior Carano maintained her usual regimen and
concentrated on the choreography. Evans, welcoming
the physical challenge, embarked on SAS-style training
so he could fully represent the consummate warrior of
his Shaw. The practice sessions were often punishing,
but the outcome was worth it.
Prior to conceptualizing any fights, Schneider
scouted the shooting locations and spoke with the art
department and set decorators to get specs on the film
sets. This allowed him to incorporate those practical
elements into the action. A railing in an underground
tube station could enhance an acrobatic kick, or an
exposed cargo strap on the Antonov set could leverage
a hit to an opponent -- anything environmental would
play a part to heighten the action. Prior to filming, he
made sure to bring the actors to the actual locations
so they too were familiar with their surroundings. As
rehearsals continued with the cast, the fights were
Key to Schneider's approach was to have a
definitive style for each character. Truly, with so many
battles, different moves were utilized for particular
fights and never duplicated. Johnson, Carano and Indonesian martial arts star Joe Taslim are all skilled
athletes, and audiences have high expectations of what
these performers can do. Therefore, Schneider wanted
to mix it up a bit and inject more character into their
Johnson has clocked in his fair share of fights and
stunt work in the WWE and films like Fast Five and G.I.
Joe: Retaliation. Of his experience with the stunt crew,
he commends: "Olivier and his team are focused. I
always appreciate it when fight choreographers do their
homework and get to know my style. I love working
outside of the box and learning new fighting techniques
and styles, but at the same time it will always come
back to the essence of how I fight." He deadpans: "I'll
rip your head off. Olivier made sure that core element
that drives my style is always there, but at the same
time was smart enough and challenged enough to add a
few more things in it for me."
For their parts, Hobbs, Riley and Shaw are more
disciplined in the schools of military law enforcement.
Therefore, Schneider in corporated Krav Maga, Wing
Chun kung fu and Kali Eskrima techniques into the fight
scenes. On the flip side, Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman and
Han are street fighters through and through; they rely
on instincts much more than formal training.
When it came to conceptualizing the
sequences, the soft-spoken Carano, known
for her powerful right punch and insane
roundhouse kick, was eager to add to her
fighting repertoire. She offers: "I had done
different types of fight training before Fast
& Furious 6. Olivier was familiar with my
background and what I'd done on Haywire,
so he wanted to give a different look in this
film. Riley is a formally trained soldier, which
was a nice change of pace. She goes into any
given situation in a position of power, instead
of being on the receiving end."
Schneider was in awe of Taslim's skill
set, even after seeing his gravity-defying
performance in The Raid: Redemption. "If you have
seen The Raid, you can fully understand Joe's abilities,"
says the fight choreographer. "He is one of those guys
with the fastest hands I have ever seen. I often videotape
fight rehearsals, but I was too slow and couldn't follow
him because he's very, very fast. He learns quickly, so
you can ask him whatever you want and he will deliver."
The first of the two breathless Letty-Riley bouts
in the movie was filmed in one day at Aldwych
Station, a now-defunct underground train station in the
Westminster section of London. The lack of working
elevators left the cast and crew no option but to carry
hundreds of pounds of equipment down 100 narrow
steps to get to the lower level, where the filming of
the down-and-dirty fight would take place. Remarks
Moritz: "One of the trademarks of our franchise is to
do as much real action as possible and to rely on visual
effects as little as possible. The subway fight between
Letty and Riley, which is so visceral and in your face,
is 100-percent practical fighting. There are no visual
effects. It's just really intense."
Recalls Lin of that filming day: "For Gina and
Michelle to show up and tell their stunt doubles to take
the day off because they're going to try to do everything themselves, is a testament to how hard they work. That
makes all of this worth it."
Regardless of what was asked of them, the cast
was willing to give anything a try. Eager to top what
they accomplished on Fast Five or just happy to deliver
practically executed stunts, the gang was open to any
proposition. Particularly Rodriguez, who stands out to
both Powell and Schneider for her fearlessness. Powell
commends: "Michelle is Michelle. She does anything
that you want her to do. From wherever it comes, it's all
guts there. Michelle doesn't lack any of that."
Initially, Rodriguez was a bit concerned about
how the Letty-Riley fight scenes would translate on
screen. Although the Girlfight star fully understood that
Carano's skill set and level of athleticism was stronger
than her own, she still wanted to make certain that the
sequences made sense for her character. After weeks
of training with Schneider and learning the intricate
choreography, she grew more and more confident with
how the fights would play out.
Also important to how Rodriguez approached those
scenes was being certain about what was driving Letty.
Whereas Riley has more of a methodical, paramilitary-
trained approach, Letty's a scrapper. She's long fought
for her life, and her style taps into the streets she grew
up on in L.A. By creating a dynamic in which Letty
was all about survival and Riley was all
about technique, the audience can feel
this primal struggle.
Carano, whose MMA experience
enabled her to inflict some real
physical damage in the octagon, had
to make a concerted effort to redirect
her physicality to perform for the
camera, while simultaneously being
hyperconscious not to injure her co-stars. Once she was more familiar with
the choreography, Rodriguez, however,
had other plans in store for her co-star
and encouraged Carano to go full-out
on those takes.
When shooting the fighting action, Lin favors
wider shots. This allows him to be very strategic
when he cuts to tighter perspectives that give the
audience the full impact of the brutal scene. Taking
that into account, Schneider worked closely with
cinematographer Stephen Windon while designing
each fight scene. With up to four cameras filming at
any given time, timing, positioning and a 360-degree
lighting system were all an integral part of delivering
up-close heart-pounding action.
The Underground train station at Waterloo set
the stage for another standout fight sequence. Taslim
squares off against Gibson and Kang in a scene that
begins with a foot chase, which had all three actors
sprinting through and around 200 background actors. It
culminates with a martial-arts bonanza that showcases
Taslim's amazing abilities. Naturally, Gibson, Kang and
Taslim had rehearsed the scene, but filming before the
cameras, crew and background actors added another
layer of energy to the day's work. Although stunt
doubles were on hand throughout rehearsals and on the
shoot days, both Gibson and Kang opted to do their
own fight work against Taslim.
Lin explains their choices: "It's energy like that
that carries us through a shoot of this length and of this magnitude. Joe is unbelievable. He was going 110
percent all the time, and you see that intensity on screen.
You see it because I was able to shoot it the way I wanted
to. I didn't have to hide his face or Tyrese's and Sung's
because they were doing everything themselves."
Gibson adds: "I felt really good about that scene. I
love that Justin gave me an opportunity to demonstrate
that Roman can get in there and get busy, too. Of course,
it's Roman, so we figured out the sweet spot and made
sure the audience is having fun...even at the height of
some dramatic moments."
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