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Jumping and Derailing Trains
As Bekmambetov is a believer in augmenting the action with visual effects—not wholly creating action with CG—the special effects team under supervisor DOMINIC TUOHY was interpolated into the Prague/Moscow system of production. Tuohy comments, "Timur looks at and approaches things in a very different way, which is great for a movie like Wanted. I have no idea how he comes up with the things he does, but I hope that we translated them from his vision to the audience.”

Nowhere was this synergistic production effort more needed than in the film's awesome train sequences. Myhre recalls, "When we initially read the script, there was a parkouring sequence [manuevering through city architecture like an obstacle course], but we thought we could ratchet up the action somehow. When we visited Chicago, Bekmambetov looked up at the elevated trains and came up with the idea of trying to do something special on top of the train.”

So, several tops of full-sized "L” trains were constructed on a green-screen stage with the actors doing their own stunts on what, in effect, are ‘real' trains. Tuohy adds, "This sequence plays a big part in the end of the film, so it was important to link everything together while trying to exploit the practical and physical effects as much as possible.”

To add to the scenes' pace and heighten the impression of movement, Tuohy designed (in conjunction with the art department and director) the set piece of a bridge that actually traveled over the top of the train set pieces, while the train itself remains stationary. "We moved the bridge with computerized winches, so that we knew exactly where it was and at what speed it was traveling,” supervisor Tuohy says. "By doing that, we gave confidence to the artists doing their own stunts—three meters up in the air—by ensuring that each take would be the same, repetitive move.” Bekmambetov simplifies, "The train was too big to move, so we moved the bridge instead!”

In addition to the "L” train sequences, the script calls for a breathless chase through a Pendolino (a high-speed train that tilts on the track as it takes bends and turns—much as a motorcycle leans into turns). The sequence reaches its climax with a train car plummeting to the bottom of a deep gorge.

To facilitate this, the Pendolino car was constructed on a gimbal equipped with hydraulics that could not only rotate the set 360°, but also tilt the train to a 32° angle…and all of that could be done within a matter of seconds. During filming, the train car was spun almost as quickly as it would have if plummeting down a gorge. Again, Tuohy: "In the sequence, the train derails itself and, from that point on, we used our train carriage that tilts and rolls to simulate a crash. We actually saw all of the stunt crew inside, rolling around inside this train, as well as our actors, who did every scene themselves. It was rough for the actors and crew, but it makes the scene far more interesting when you actually have real people trapped behind chairs or getting flung around. Our actors said they felt like they were in a tumble dryer, poor guys.”

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