THE LAST CASTLE
The Castle Breach
The ultimate act of defiance is the climactic final battle Irwin and the prisoners wage to take control of the prison and overthrow Winter's command. Directing his first big action movie, Lurie was glad to rely on the experience of his veteran second unit director and stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers. "I had total confidence in Mic and learned a lot from him. He was absolutely spectacular."
Rodgers worked closely with special effects supervisor Burt Dalton to choreograph the battle while ensuring the safety of the actors, stunt men and crew. Dalton was also responsible for inventing many of the prisoner's makeshift weapons, including the medieval-looking trebuchet, more familiarly known as a catapult. "That thing was not fake and pretty accurate," Rodgers states. "It could throw a 150-pound rock 200 feet to land within ten feet of where you were aiming it."
"Basically, it's a battle of resourcefulness for the prisoners because they have to use what's available to them," says
"It's guerilla warfare," Lawrence adds, "but it almost has a medieval feel because they are surrounded by castle walls, and they have to put together an arsenal of handmade weapons, utilizing items they can get their hands on around the prison."
Winter fights back with more sophisticated weapons, including a water cannon that shot approximately 200 gallons of water every ten seconds. "We had to be very careful with that piece equipment, because you could do some real damage with a direct hit from that amount of water," Rodgers says.
Safety was essential since several of the actors did many of their own stunts, including Robert Redford. "Redford has done stunts all his life, so he was great.. .a pleasure to work with," Rodgers comments.
Mark Ruffalo was also eager to do his own stunt work, including the sequence where he is hanging from the helicopter. "At first, I was begging to do that stunt," Ruffalo says. "They finally agreed to let me do it, and then I saw the helicopter come into the yard, and it looked huge. It made this giant yard look like a sandbox, and all of a sudden
I was thinking 'What did I get myself into?'." With the aid of a safety harness and the training of Mic Rodgers, Ruffalo accomplished the stunt perfectly.
Rather than resorting to using blue screen effects, the interiors of the helicopter sequence were accomplished with a special
gimbal, also built by Burt Dalton. A full-size Huey—a type of military helicopter—was hooked onto the
gimbal, which was suspended 30 feet in the air from a 200-ton crane. The gimbal could rotate the copter 360 degrees and move it vertically 20 feet, with realistic pitch and yaw. The actors could work inside the Huey and be totally safe because the entire contraption was motion controlled by computer. The controls gave Dalton's special effects team the ability to set speed and movement with precise repeatability for multiple takes, which would later allow Rod Lurie to choose from different shots in editing the battle sequence.
"The story takes the exact route to war that has transpired throughout history. It begins with a conflict, then there is an attempt at reasoning and negotiation, and when that fails, there is war," Lurie notes.
"War is chaos; it practically has no order, and that's where leadership comes in," Redford remarks. "The leader has to command in a way that keeps order and purpose. The purpose is usually to defend a country, but it can also be to fulfill one's personal mission as a human being."
"There is also honor in there—honor in never giving up and never backing off when you trust what you're doing is right," Gandolfini adds.
Lawrence offers, "I think the story speaks to those values of honor, discipline and courage, and the fact that, no matter how impossible
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